February 18, 2015 | 10:37pm
WASHINGTON — They’re burning and beheading victims in the name of Islam, but President Obama delivered a major speech Wednesday on combating violent extremism — while refusing to use the words “Muslim terrorists.”
“No religion is responsible for terrorism — people are responsible for violence and terrorism,” Obama told a crowd that included Muslim community leaders at the White House.
Following months of unrelenting atrocities by ISIS killers who released videos of themselves beheading US journalists and, most recently, 21 Coptic Christians, and burning a man alive, the president kowtowed to the audience by proclaiming that “Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding.”
“Generations of Muslim immigrants came here and went to work as farmers and merchants and factory workers, helped to lay railroads and build up America,” he said.
“The first Islamic center in New York City was founded in the 1890s. America’s first mosque — this was an interesting fact — was in North Dakota.”
And just days after Pope Francis condemned ISIS’s barbaric murders of 21 Egyptians “simply for the fact that they were Christians,” Obama insisted al Qaeda and their ilk “are not religious leaders. They’re terrorists.”
“And we are not at war with Islam,” the president said. “We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”
In his much-anticipated remarks at a summit on “Countering Violent Extremism,” the president also:
Called on the international community to “eradicate this scourge of violent extremism,” repeating the White House terminology that eschews mentioning religion.
Declared that “we all know there is no one profile of a violent extremist or terrorist . . . Around the world, and in the United States, inexcusable acts of violence have been committed against people of different faiths, by people of different faiths, which is, of course, betrayal of all of our faiths.”
Mourned the “brutal murders” of “three young Muslim Americans” in Chapel Hill, NC, pointing to the religion of the victims even though the crime may have been over a parking dispute.
Pointed to “grievances” of young Muslims living in poverty under corrupt governments, saying that when there are no outlets, “resentments fester.”
Was protective of Muslims in the US. “Muslim Americans feel they have been unfairly targeted,” he said. “We have to be sure that abuses stop, are not repeated, that we do not stigmatize entire communities.”
Obama even acknowledged pundits who have parsed “the words we use to describe and frame this challenge” — a reference to growing criticism about the language deployed by his administration.
Obama’s speech included repeated references to Islam and Muslims as he laid out his argument — but he didn’t budge on how he would refer to the self-styled Islamic State.
Instead, he simply referred to ISIS and al Qaeda as “groups” and talked about the need to “vanquish these organizations.”
The summit itself didn’t have Islam in the name.
Although the White House didn’t make the guest list public, attendees at Tuesday’s session with Vice President Joe Biden were mainly from Muslim groups.