- The Washington Times - Friday, February 27, 2015

The Muslim World League held a debate on terrorism in Mecca this week and some of its participants countered the Obama administration’s attempts to divorce acts of terror from a broader discussion on Islam.

“Islam and Counterterrorism” featured three days of influential speakers from a Saudi-backed alliance of Islamic NGOs.

“The terrorism that we face within the Muslim Ummah and our own homelands today … is religiously motivated. It has been founded on extremism, and the misconception of some distorted Sharia concept,” Abdullah bin Abdelmohsin al-Turki, secretary-general of the Muslim World League, said, The Atlantic reported Friday.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Sunni Islam’s most prestigious university, al-Azhar in Egypt, said that violence was “strange to Islam,” but admitted that it was “the historical accumulations of extremism and militancy,” in the religion’s heritage that was “the most prominent” source of radicalization, The Atlantic reported.

Will McCants, director of the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution, told the magazine that Mr. Obama may avoid linking terror groups to Islam to give Muslim scholars breathing room for an internal debate.

Mr. McCants said that if the president were to be more vocal about Islam’s connections to terror perpetrated in its name, then “it can discredit the people who reach the same conclusions we do. If Muslims and the U.S. government say these guys don’t represent Islam, it makes the Muslims look like pawns of the United States,” The Atlantic reported.

The magazine said the Muslim World League’s aim for its three-day summit was to “promote a moderate, peaceful vision of Islam that disavows the violence and apostasy that ISIS thrives on.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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