June 27th, 2007
01:30 PM ET
7 years ago

Bush calls on Muslims to reject extremism

President Bush makes remarks during the re-dedication ceremony of the Islamic Center of Washington in Washington, Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush on Wednesday called on Muslims to reject violence and extremism, and predicted that the Muslim world will one day realize a future of freedom, prosperity and peace.

"The greatest challenge facing people of conscience is to help the forces of moderation win the great struggle against extremism that is now playing out across the broader Middle East," Bush said, citing "the rise of a group of extremists who seek to use religion as a path to power and a means of domination."

Such "betrayers of the true Muslim faith" claim falsely that America is at war with Islam, "when in fact it is these radicals who are Islam's true enemies," Bush said at the Islamic Center of Washington on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. Prior to entering the holy site, the president followed Muslim custom and removed his shoes.

He said recent attacks on Muslim holy sites were intended to divide Muslims "and make them fight one another."

But most of the victims of violence in the Middle East have been Muslims themselves, he said, citing the bombing of a wedding reception in Amman, Jordan, a housing complex in Saudi Arabia, and a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia.

"They claim to undertake these acts of butchery and mayhem in the name of Allah," Bush said. "This enemy is not the true face the Islam. This enemy is the face of hatred."

Bush said it is the duty of Muslims "to speak out and condemn this murderous movement before it finds its path to power."

Bush said he has "invested the heart of my presidency in helping Muslims fight terrorism," and expressed optimism about the course of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"We believe the ultimate success of Afghans and Iraqis will inspire others who want to live in freedom as well," he said.

Bush said he has seen "stirrings of a democratic future" in other parts of the Middle East, but added that no one should expect immediate results. "It will take time for liberty to flower," he said. "A democratic future is not a plan imposed by Western nations. It is a future that the people of the region will seize for themselves."

But Bush said the United States and other nations will help those who labor under oppression and seek the freedom to live and worship as they choose.

"The free world hears you," he said. "America offers you its hand in friendship. We work for the day when we can welcome you into the family of free nations."

Bush announced that he will appoint a special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference who will "listen and learn from representatives from Muslim states and share with them America's views and values."

The OIC is composed of 56 Islamic states that promote Muslim solidarity in economic, social and political affairs.

Bush's comments were warmly received by the 185 guests who packed the mosque, said Imam Abdullah Khouj (prono: Coach), director of the center.

"The people I could hear were very pleased with his remarks concerning Islam and the Muslims," Khouj told CNN in a telephone interview.

Bush's visit was his third to the mosque. He first visited it on Sept. 17, 2001, six days after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and again during the Muslim feast of sacrifice called the Eid.

"I believe, personally, that his first visit was great to help people understand and distinguish between Islam and some people who act out of the religion of Islam and claim to be Islams," Khouj said.

Asked whether he supports Bush's position on Iraq, Khouj withheld judgment. "I haven't been to Iraq, so I can't give a clear picture of what's taking place," he said. Still, he added, "War is not desired, and we hope that people can resolve their conflict through peace and try to be tolerant towards each other."

Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. LoooseyGoosey

    Yeah right. Thats like asking Demorats to support America.

    June 27, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  2. Jean - PA

    I find it interesting that this article immediately follows one referencing Ann Coulter's despicable comments about John Edwards. Perhaps Prez Bush needs to address Ms. Coulter on the subject of rejecting extremism.

    June 27, 2007 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. Peter Frady, Boston, MA

    With all due respect Mr Bush, what do you really know about the Arab issues. I am an Honorably Discharged Veteran. I like you I quit the National Guard and unlike you I went to Active duty. Also I grew up in a Lebanese American Family with the Arab issues talked about daily. I know far better than You or any of your light skinned clones the True issues facing The Mid East. (Oh, wait a second I am Not a college graduate so what do I really know as I have been told by many of you with sheep skins) Get off the tit of the Oil companies, You and that arrogant V.P. made enough money from the Blood of Our Soldiers. We can make this work for everyone in society not just a select few. Quit hiding behind all the Lies. Arab nations have been around far longer than all of the US. I know you do not like opposition to your opinions. Your own party has turned on you. You were once a good man, so what happened. Let's talk on all issues facing Our once happy home land.


    June 27, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  4. anonymous Portsmouth, VA

    Tell the truth. The problem is that the west can't contain its extremism and threatens to force traditional muslims in the mideast to choose between extremism and a pagan west. I find it rather disingenous of the media to refuse to act more discretely when we are at war with those that can simply point at prime time TV and say to the traditional Muslim, "Look. This is what America is. They aren't faithful to their husbands or wives. They support homosexual marriages and abortion. They give birth control out in schools and they don't believe in God". This is what I worry about. That the peace loving, traditional folks in the mideast will be the new recruiting ground for the extremists. And we haven't had the sense or self control to reign it in, even for our troops or country. How are you going to tell the traditional muslim family that freedom includes those philosophies that have destroyed our own family structure and not get the door slammed in your face?

    June 27, 2007 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  5. L.Philyaw, Deep Gap, North Carolina

    Ann Coulter is just another brassy appearing loud-mouth. We are not stupid, we know who not to listen to and that certainly includes Ann Coulter. I do not care to hear anything she has to say, nor see her in an interview.

    June 27, 2007 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  6. Colin, Cheyenne WY

    Given that Bush is a Christian extremist, he has no right to preach to extremists of other faiths.

    June 27, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  7. DJ, Los Angeles

    Speaking at the Islamic Ctr in Washington is a very shrewd maneuveur and a good idea.

    It shows the Muslim world that we too have millions of their followers that are not extremists and can live in harmony side by side with Christians and Jews.

    Though he needs to be less biased and PROVE to the Muslim world that he is sincere and broker a new peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israel. That will gain instant credibility and win over the scores of skeptics in the Islamic world.

    We don't need to invade Iran or continue to occupy Iraq. Iran is already starting to crumble from within. Lead by example with our policy and goodwill peace gestures, they will follow.

    Bush is very unpopular in the U.S. and around the world...however this is his ONE opportunity to make-up for his poor decisions and be a hero. He talked about the road-map, we haven't seen it yet...let's see if he is serious.

    June 27, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  8. Brian, Charleston SC

    How can anyone (such as the anonymous poster above) equate the 'extremism' of birth control to the targeted murder of the innocent that terrorist organizations around the world are partaking in?
    Haven't we forgotten something valued by of all the sons (and daughters) of Abraham? The value of human life?

    June 27, 2007 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    The problem is that it all depends on the point of view of the person.

    Israel views Hamas and perhaps even all Palestinians as "terrorist" that need to be kept isolated in an aparteid system for its own protection...

    Islamic Extremists view themselves as the victims and Hamas as "freedom fighters" against a repressive regime which expelled millions of their people into refugee style tent cities with no place to call home...

    There is no easy answer other than the U.S. continue to work to be a peacemaker and bring both sides to the table.

    June 27, 2007 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  10. Jeff St. Louis

    I love how the same people who claim to be "Pro-Life" are die-hard supporters of the same party that cuts Health-Care (which could help save lives), does not support any organization that helps children in poverty or in foster homes, and is the first party to send our teenagers to a war that has no direction or realistic end-goal. How about we re-define what it means to be pro-life?

    June 27, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  11. Michael Fournier, Cambridge, MA

    It would nice if Bush called on Christians to reject extremism as well, instead of promoting it along side bigotry and hate.

    June 27, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  12. Keith B, Cheyenne WY

    The greatest challenge facing people of conscience is to help the forces of moderation win the great struggle against extremism that is now playing out across the broader Middle East,” Bush said, citing “the rise of a group of extremists who seek to use religion as a path to power and a means of domination.”

    Dear Mr. Bush, Middle East to United States and you can apply your statement to many of your right wing conservative supporters right here at home "who seek to use religion as a path to power and a means of domination.” Let's clean up our own back yard before we try to police the rest of the world

    June 27, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  13. Dennis F, Indianapolis, IN


    The man that sent the most modern military in the world into a country based on WMD lies (resulting in Tens to hundreds of thousands of deaths) is now lecturing the muslim world to reject violence and extremism.

    What a Joke !!!!!

    June 27, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  14. Deb, Richmond VA

    now isn't this the "pot calling the kettle black". Bush and his supporters are prime examples of Christian extremism.

    June 27, 2007 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  15. Riaz, Jersey City, NJ

    If Muslims had not done this already, howcome so many Muslims and other faiths are living peacefully here. Churches/Not for Profit Christian organizations are renting places for Muslims to do Friday Prayers or summer classes or special gatherings etc.,

    What is that Muslims should do to convince more ?

    Riaz, Jersey City, NJ

    June 27, 2007 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  16. John N., Austin, TX

    Maybe they will when we do!

    June 27, 2007 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  17. Pete, Tarpon Springs, FL

    Maybe "W" ought to renounce extremism first and as a show of good faith get rid of Cheney and his puppet master Karl. And while he is at it recognize that there are many religions throughout our great nation, made up of citizens that vote.

    “We the People”

    June 27, 2007 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  18. Pete in US

    First, I suggest that people do not refer to President Bush as Prez Bush or Bushie. I suspect many are knowingly being disrespectful to the man and the office. Please try to give the President respect, even if only for the office and not for the man or his decisions.

    Personally, I do not consider President Bush to be an extremist to the extent of extremist Muslims. I do not believe that neither President Bush nor Israel are intending to kill innocent children, for instance, while extremist Muslims are willing to do so.

    Historically, most wars are won by the party most able to fight and most willing to win. The extremist Muslims certainly have more willingness to sacrifice themselves (and others around them, especially innocents who may oppose them) and this makes them a much tougher opponent.

    I believe that Free or Universal Health Care, like socialism and other entitlement programs dilute the effectiveness. Yes, the poorest of the poor may have more/better options available, but the majority of the others pay financially and with fewer/worse options.

    June 27, 2007 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  19. Nadir Ahmed, Peoria Illinois

    I think it is Bush who needs to first reject violence before he asks anyone else to.

    And I wouldn't call this a war against Islam... err well... I mean maybe we are at war against a couple pages of the Quran, that's all! Just those passages which talk about the Islamic state... we are only at war against those verses.

    Nadir Ahmed

    June 27, 2007 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  20. Robert Lenoir NC

    BOY-O-BOY, does he have a nerve to talk about a conscience, when he is for everybody but us Americans.
    OUR goverment act like terrorist by going against the will of the people.
    Let's make him president of Mexico then maybe he will be for AMRERICA.
    Send the whole bunch and start over.

    June 27, 2007 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  21. Cllff Dillmann, Marysville, PA

    We have killed far more of the Iraq people than have terrorists. When extremism is the concern, President Bush is the most extreme, and most lawless, of the world's leaders, except perhaps for a few despots who fortunutely don t have the access to arms that he has.

    June 27, 2007 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  22. Mike, Corpus Christi, Texas

    Bush is a "lame duck," how can anybody still believe him, or "believe in him?"

    June 28, 2007 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  23. Ben Hahn, San Marcos, Texas

    Basically, the straight-talking President is simply making an understandable, heartfelt and honest appeal to would-be Muslim radicals: Have the decency not to do with Islam what Bush himself has indeed done with Christianity, using it as a political instrument to justify his killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

    June 28, 2007 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  24. Tom G., Frankenmuth, Michigan

    Great Job President Bush!!!! If more Leaders of the World would stand up and do their duty to rid the world of Radical Islamics, with a Jihad against others, the World would be more peaceful. We as freedom fighters of the World, cannot help when Radical Jihadists are calling for "Death to America and Israel". Thank You GWB for standing strong for Liberty and Freedom in the World!

    June 28, 2007 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  25. joey , hot springs , ar

    This has been happening for hundreds if not over a thousand years. all the sudden the great american messiah g.w. bush will show them the way. i think not. that is for those people to figure out on their own. when they figure out life and what you give to this world while you are alive is worth a thousand times more than death , murder , and religious views then and only then will there be peace.

    June 28, 2007 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
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