President Donald Trump has enjoyed a rare bit of bipartisan support for his stirring address to the Muslim world during his visit to Saudi Arabia, in which the commander in chief set a stern tone against radical Islamic terrorism – and dramatically set himself apart from predecessor Barack Obama’s apologist approach.
Compared to Obama’s speech at Al-Azhar University in Cairo that was attended by members of the Muslim Brotherhood and centered on American guilt, Trump delivered his powerful address at a summit of Arab and Muslim leaders at a conference specifically geared toward fighting terrorism.
“Muslim countries must take the lead in combating radicalization,” Trump declared. He noted that he was not there to speak about religious matters but to unite the U.S. and its allies “in pursuing the one goal … to conquer extremism and vanquish the forces that terrorism brings with it every single time.”
Back in 2009, a bowing and remorseful Obama took the opportunity to blame tension between the U.S. and the Middle East on “colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims” and lamented “the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization” for turning Muslims against the West.
In contrast, Trump directly named a slew of terror attacks that took place in recent years in the U.S. and around the world, pointing out that “the deadliest toll has been extracted from the innocent people of Arab and Muslim nations.”
“There can be no co-existence with this violence,” he said emphatically.
While Obama assured that the Islamic faith had no obligation to root out terrorist sympathizers, Trump called on Saudi Arabia and other Muslim-majority nations to prohibit known terrorists from attending places of worship and to ensure “terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil.”
Perhaps most noticeable was the fact that Obama never used the word “terror” directly, instead choosing to vaguely refer to “extremists.” Trump pointedly used the word “terror” at least 31 times and adopted a strong stance toward countries like Iran who are known for harboring terrorists.