President Barack Obama reminded world leaders on Thursday that "we are all in the same boat" in the fight against violent extremism, asserting the importance human rights access plays in combatting such extremism.
Obama made the remarks on the third day of a White House summit on the issue, where he called on world leaders to remain steadfast their fight against groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State, "especially their attempt to use Islam to justify their violence."
The president rejected the notion that the West is at war with Islam, calling it an "ugly lie."
"These terrorists are desperate for legitimacy and all of us have a responsibility to refute the notion that groups like ISIL somehow represent Islam because that is a falsehood that embraces the terrorist narrative," Obama said. "At minimum as a basic first step countries have a responsibility to cut off funding that fuels hatred and corrupts young minds and endangers us all."
He added that violent extremism is fed when human rights are violated or stunted, saying that "lasting stability and real security" require free elections and independent judiciaries.
“When people are oppressed and human rights are denied, particularly along sectarian lines or ethnic lines, when dissent is silenced, it feeds violent extremism,” Obama told the world leaders in attendance. “It creates an environment that is ripe for terrorists to exploit. When peaceful democratic change is impossible, it feeds into the terrorist propaganda that violence is the only answer available."
"We are all in the same boat, we have to help each other," Obama added. "In this work you have a strong partner in me and the United States of America."
In Wednesday remarks at the summit, the president made an argument against using the words "radical Islam" when describing terrorist groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State, saying the phrase makes an unfair connection to religion, and gives the groups undeserved legitimacy.