President Barack Obama has asserted that the US campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalised to violence is ultimately a battle for “hearts and minds” and governments that deny human rights “play into the hands” of extremists.
“Governments that deny human rights play into the hands of extremists who claim that violence is the only way to achieve change.
“Efforts to counter violent extremism will only succeed if citizens can address legitimate grievances through the democratic process and express themselves through strong civil societies,” Obama wrote in an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times.
“Those efforts must be matched by economic, educational and entrepreneurial development so people have hope for a life of dignity,” he said as the White House held its three-day summit on violent extremism here, which is being attended by officials from over 60 countries, including India.
In his latest comment, Obama - who has recently touched upon issues of religious intolerance and extremism in a series of statements, including during his historic second visit to India and at the high-profile National Prayer Breakfast - said the US has made significant gains against terrorism.
“We’ve decimated the core al-Qaeda leadership, strengthened homeland security and worked to prevent another large-scale attack like 9/11,” he said, adding that at the same time, the threat has evolved.
“The al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen actively plots against us. Since 9/11, terrorists have murdered US citizens overseas, including in the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Here in the United States, Americans have been killed at Ft. Hood and during the Boston Marathon.
“Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalised to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds,” he said.
Obama noted that in Syria and Iraq, “the terrorist group we call ISIL has slaughtered innocent civilians and murdered hostages, including Americans, and has spread its barbarism to Libya with the murder of Egyptian Christians”.