- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 21, 2017

President Trump on Sunday will cast the fight against terrorism as a “battle between good and evil” and will tell Muslim countries that it’s up to them to decide what kind of future they want in the Middle East.

In a major speech in Saudi Arabia, the president will reject the idea that the U.S. and its allies are at war with Islam, but he’ll stress that it is Islamic leaders, not Western politicians or diplomats, who are best able to defeat terrorism.

“America is a sovereign nation and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens. 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,” Mr. Trump will say, according to excerpts released Sunday morning by the White House.

“Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person, and falsely invokes the name of God, it should be an insult to every person of faith,” he will say. “Terrorism has spread across the world. But the path to peace begins right here, on this ancient soil, in this sacred land.

“America is prepared to stand with you in pursuit of shared interests and common security. But 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.”

Mr. Trump’s national security advisor, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, suggested to ABC News over the weekend that the president, just as his predecessor had done, will avoid the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” during his speech. The White House excerpts include Mr. Trump using the words “Islamist extremism” and “Islamist terror groups.”

He also will call on Muslim leaders to play a larger role in denouncing terrorism and quashing it before it can took root in Middle Eastern communities.

“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. This is a battle between good and evil,” the president will say. “Religious leaders must make this absolutely clear: Barbarism will deliver you no glory — piety to evil will bring you no dignity. If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and your soul will be condemned.”

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