U.S. President Barack Obama has drawn fire in the UN from UK Prime Minister David Cameron this week over Obama’s refusal to name the Islamist ideology specifically as the root cause of violent extremism.
Obama cautioned a gathering of international leaders not to profile Muslims specifically on the grounds that “violent extremism is not unique to any one faith.”
“Barack, you said it and you’re right — every religion has its extremists,” Cameron countered. “But we have to be frank that the biggest problem we have today is the Islamist extremist violence that has given birth to ISIL, to al-Shabab, to al-Nusra, al Qaeda and so many other groups.”
“The boy who straps a bomb to his chest and blows up an Iraqi town, the guy that stands in the desert with a knife, having just beheaded a British hostage or whoever, they don’t get there from a standing start” Cameron went on to say.
“They have extremist views and an extremist mindset before they make that final decision to be an extremist terrorist. We have to stop this process at the start, not at the end. We also need to challenge the extremist worldview right at the very start,” he added.
Cameron first named the political ideology of Islamist extremism as the cause of terrorism in a landmark speech earlier this year.
Obama responded positively to Cameron’s remarks while still not naming Islamist extremism as the problem, however, saying, “I thought David Cameron’s point [on radicalization] was excellent, that we are focused on violent extremism, but violent extremism is emerging out of an extremist worldview that has to be counteracted.”