An Islamic group in the U.S. praised President Barack Obama’s Sunday night speech on Islam and gun control.
The Center on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Islamic advocacy group in the country, lauded Obama’s televised speech, in which Obama urged Americans not to associate all Muslims with the terrorist attacks conducted by Islamic extremists like Islamic State. The president’s marks came after the deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. that left 14 dead and 17 injured. The FBI is investigating the shooting as terrorism after discovering the Muslim shooters’ connection to ISIS.
“In light of the recent hate incidents targeting the American Muslim community and the hate-filled rhetoric we hear from a number of public figures, we welcome President Obama’s strong statement calling for national unity and rejecting anti-Muslim ‘suspicion and hate,’” CAIR National executive director Nihad Awad says in a statement. “The president was clear in disassociating Islam from the thugs of ISIS, who are the common enemy of all Americans and of all Muslims worldwide.”
The praise comes despite Obama calling on Muslim groups to “confront” the problem “without excuse.”
“If we’re to succeed in defeating terrorism, we must enlist Muslim communities as some of our strongest allies, rather than push them away through suspicion and hate,” Obama says in the speech. “That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. It’s a real problem that Muslims must confront without excuse.”
After the terrorist attack in Paris, presidential candidate Ted Cruz said the U.S. should only allow Christian refugees into the country. Obama called the idea “shameful” the day after Cruz proposed it and said “that’s not who we are.”
“In his address, President Obama repudiated the view that there should be a war on Islam, acknowledged that the vast majority of the victims of terrorism are Muslims and that extremists are a ‘tiny fraction’ of Muslims worldwide, and rejected both discrimination against American Muslims and a religious test for those admitted to this country,” CAIR says in a statement.
Cruz was not impressed with Obama’s speech, saying Obama missed the opportunity to rally Americans like former President Franklin D. Roosevelt did after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
“If I am elected President, I will direct the Department of Defense to destroy ISIS. And I will shut down the broken immigration system that is lettingjihadists into our country,” Cruz says in a statement. “Nothing President Obama said tonight will assist in either case.”
Obama ended his Sunday address with a call to unity.
“Muslim Americans are our friends and neighbors, our coworkers, our sports heroes, and yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country,” he says. “We have to remember that.”