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Majority of Islam rejects extremists, says Obama

By Lalit K Jha
July 15, 2010 03:54 IST
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US President Barack Obama said on Wednesday,that there was a tendency among radicals to portray as "anti-Islam" any effort towards democratisation, but insisted that vast majority of the followers of the "great religion" had rejected the extremist approach.

"Islam is a great religion. It is one that has prospered side by side with other religions within Africa. And one of the great strengths of Africa is its diversity not only of faith, but of races and ethnicities," Obama said in an interview to the South African Broadcasting Corporation. "But what you have seen in terms of radical Islam is an approach that says that any efforts to modernise, any efforts to provide basic human rights, any efforts to democratise are somehow anti-Islam. And I think that is absolutely wrong," Obama said.

"I think the vast majority of people of the Islamic faith reject that. I think the people of Africa reject it," the US President said in his first television interview after the attack by Al-Shabaab terrorist outfit killed more than 70 people in Kampala. Some of the statements made by terror groups showed that they did not regard African life as valuable and saw the continent as a potential place to carry out ideological battles, he said. Hence, it was important to carry on developmental work in the continent so that African countries would make their way to prosperity, Obama said, adding the US could be an effective partner in this aspect.

The US President also argued that extremism or radicalism cannot be linked to poverty alone. "It's not just link to poverty. I mean, I think there's an ideological component to it that also has to be rejected. Obviously young people, if they don't have opportunity, are more vulnerable to these misguidedideologies. "But we also have to directly confront the fact that issues like anti-democratic, anti-free speech, anti-freedom of religion agenda, which is what an organisation like Al-Shabaab promotes, also often goes hand-in-hand with violence," hesaid.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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