Trump tells Muslim leaders not to shelter terrorists

Elias Hubbard
May 22, 2017

"This is not a battle between different faith, different sects, or different civilizations", Trump told leaders of Arab and Muslim-dominated countries during a high-stakes speech on Sunday at a summit in Riyadh.

Amnesty International said the "glaring absence of human rights from Trump's agenda" in talks with Gulf Arab rulers will only embolden further violations against critics, peaceful dissidents and human rights defenders. Drive them out of your holy land.

"Terrorism has spread across the world".

Middle Eastern countries "cannot wait for American power", Trump said, but must instead "decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children".

Trump's remarks came in a meeting with dozens of regional leaders who gathered in Riyadh for a summit with Trump and Saudi King Salman.

The speech in a gilded hall bedecked with chandeliers is part of an effort to redefine his relationship with the Muslim world after Trump frequently attacked Muslims on the campaign trail previous year and tried to ban many from entering the United States.

Pledges to isolate Iran are essentially returning to a "status quo" in relations between the US and the Arab world, Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told NPR's Morning Edition in March. The White House-driven effort is a sharp shift from the practice of US previous administrations that typically gave secretaries of state those reins.

As a candidate, Trump proposed temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States.

Trump's trip began in Saudi Arabia and takes him, after Israel, to the Vatican for an audience with Pope Francis, to Brussels for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit and to Sicily for a meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven major industrial nations. After President Obama presided over the lifting of some worldwide sanctions on Iran, President Trump's stance echoes historical relations between the US and Iran between the 1979 Islamic Revolution through the presidency of George W. Bush, "a policy which goes back to. pushing Iran back in the Middle East", Sadjadpour said. The kingdom, however, respects the Iranian people and won't judge them "by the crimes of their regime", he said.

Wahhabism is the country's dominant faith, and in 2013, the European Parliament published a report dubbing the religion as a main cause of global terrorism.

Iran is a Shi'ite Muslim country.

Speaking about the arms deal, Tillerson also said it was about supporting Riyadh "in particular in the face of malign Iranian influence and Iranian-related threats which exist on Saudi Arabia's borders". He called for a "joint effort" between the US and Muslim-majority countries to end terrorism.

His meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi underscored their burgeoning kinship. The Obama administration had a hard relationship with Sisi, who came to power after leading a military coup in 2013 during which hundreds of demonstrators were killed, and has since jailed thousands of opponents. Mr. Trump promised to schedule a trip to Egypt soon, and he singled out the Egyptian's choice of footwear, a pair of shiny black shoes. "Love your shoes. Boy, those shoes", he said.

The speech did not focus on the religion, but Trump praised the Middle East's ancient history and modern achievements. Its Sunni Muslim royal family rules over a majority Shi'ite population and was occasionally rebuked by the Obama administration for harsh treatment of opponents.

Trump's address Sunday was the centrepiece of his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, his first stop overseas as president. He's been besieged by a series of revelations about the ongoing federal investigation into his campaign's possible ties to Russian Federation and his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, who had been overseeing the Russian Federation probe.

The New York Times reported Trump called Comey a "nut job" in a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week. Saudi Arabia is working hard to dazzle and impress Trump during his two-day visit.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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