President Obama Says Countries Must Address Secular, Economic, and Political Problems to Stem the Tide of Terror

President Obama speaks at the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism on Thursday at the State Department in Washington, D.C.
President Obama speaks at the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism on Thursday at the State Department in Washington, D.C.

President Obama told representatives of more than 60 countries Thursday that they must address secular strife and other economic and political grievances to blunt the appeal of terrorist groups worldwide.

“Nations need to break the cycles of conflict, particularly secular conflict, that become magnets for violent extremism,” Obama said at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, which convened at the State Department for its third day of meetings.

Attending the gathering were senior officials from several countries whose citizens have been targeted by Islamist militants. They included Canada’s minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, France’s interior minister, and the foreign affairs ministers of Egypt and Denmark.

The president reprised many of the themes he outlined in a speech to conference participants Wednesday afternoon, including the need to lift up moderate Muslim voices on social media and elsewhere and provide economic and political opportunities to disaffected citizens.

“When people are oppressed, and human rights are denied — particularly along sectarian lines or ethnic lines — when dissent is silenced, it feeds violent extremism,” Obama said. “And so we must recognize that lasting stability and real security require democracy.”

However, Sarah Margon, Washington director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement that the United States needs to practice what it preaches because “repressive laws and predatory security forces . . . are counterproductive and ineffective. To this end, the U.S. should also reexamine its own policies and practices to ensure they comply with international law.”

Obama took aim at the Islamic State, even as he alluded to other terrorist threats in Israel, Nigeria, Pakistan and Somalia.

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SOURCE:  Juliet Eilperin
The Washington Post

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