President Donald Trump offered a message of clarity when he addressed leaders of the Muslim world on Sunday. He called on them to “drive out” Muslim terrorists from their countries, their places of worship, and form the world. "A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists," Trump told the dozens of Muslim leaders. “Drive. Them. Out. Drive them out of your places of worship," Trump continued. "Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land, and drive them out of his Earth!"
His speech in Saudi Arabia was a distinct counterpoint to remarks he had made during his campaign. For example, in 2016, Trump said, "I think Islam hates us" and "there's a tremendous hatred there."
However, in Riyadh, Trump said, "This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it."
"If we do not stand in uniform condemnation of this killing, then we not only will be judged by our people, not only will we be judged by history, but we will be judged by God." He referred to terrorists as “foot soldiers of evil.”
"America is a sovereign nation and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens," the president said. "We are not here to lecture — we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership — based on shared interests and values — to pursue a better future for us all."
Before Trump’s speech, Saudi King Salman called on leaders "to stand united to fight the forces of evil and extremism." Salman said, "There is no honor in committing murder," while repeating the oft-repeated claim that Islam is "the religion of peace and tolerance."
Trump defined the current struggle against extremism as "a battle between good and evil."
"Barbarism will deliver you no glory — piety to evil will bring you no dignity," the president said. "If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and your soul will be condemned." He also rebuked Iran, a dire enemy of Saudi Arabia. He denounced Iran for enabling terrorists and "spreading destruction and chaos across the region." Trump called on the nations of the earth to "work together to isolate" to isolate Iran until the Islamic Republic is "willing to be a partner for peace."
"Pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they so richly deserve," he said.
In a reference to his visit to the Holy Land on Monday and a hoped-for peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, Trump said "peace in this world is possible — including peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I will be meeting with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas."
While Trump did not utilize the phrase "radical Islamic terror," which he repeated during the presidential campaign, he did speak to "confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds."
Signaling a strategic policy, Trump said, “The nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children," Trump said. "Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combating radicalization."
Saying he hoped that a period of peace may ensue, he said, "This region should not be a place that refugees flee, but to which newcomers flock.''
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