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‘Radical Islamic Terrorism’ becomes an important issue in the ongoing 2016 US Campaign

President Barack Obama has consistently refused to describe attacks by Muslims in the U.S. as "radical Islamic terrorism,"

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President Barack Obama, left, speaks to members of the media in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, June 13, 2016. source: VOA
  • The fight over how to describe Muslim terrorist acts in the US has affected the country’s 2016 presidential race in the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history
  • President Barack Obama has consistently refused to describe attacks by Muslims in the U.S. as “radical Islamic terrorism”
  • Clinton said she had no problem using the term “radical Islamism” as the impetus behind terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims

The fight over how to describe Muslim terrorist acts in the United States has quickly consumed the country’s 2016 presidential race in the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, with Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump offering divergent thoughts.

President Barack Obama, a Democrat nearing the end of two terms as the American leader, has consistently refused to describe attacks by Muslims in the U.S. as “radical Islamic terrorism,” so as not to denounce the entire Muslim religion and its 1.6 billion adherents around the world.

He maintained that stance, even as U.S. authorities say an American-born Muslim who was the son of Afghan parents shot 49 people to death and injured 53 more at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, early Sunday. In the hours after the mayhem ended with police killing the suspect, Omar Saddiqui Mateen, Obama described Mateen’s assault as “an act of terror and an act of hate.”

Obama’s Republican critics have often belittled his parsing of the language in describing terrorist attacks, saying it represents weakness in combating a mortal threat to Americans, even as he has ordered a steady round of armed drone attacks against suspected terrorists in the Mideast.
Donald Trump. wikimedia commoms
Donald Trump. wikimedia commoms

Trump, the brash billionaire real-estate mogul who surged to the top of the Republican presidential field with a call to block Muslims from entering the country, dared Obama to change his language about Muslim-launched attacks as the extent of the Orlando carnage became known.

“Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism?” Trump tweeted Sunday, June 12. “If he doesn’t he should resign immediately in disgrace.”

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In another tweet, Trump said, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

Hillary Clinton. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Hillary Clinton. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Clinton changes rhetoric

Until Monday, Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state during Obama’s first term in office from 2009 to 2013, had also rejected use of the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” But in the wake of the Orlando attack, she altered her description of such terrorist actions.

Clinton, in several news show interviews, said she had no problem using the term “radical Islamism” as the impetus behind terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims. But she said that words mattered less than actions to combat terrorism and that the United States cannot “demonize, demagogue and declare war on an entire religion.”

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“I have clearly said many, many times we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering innocent people. We have to stop them and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism or radical Islamism, whatever you call it,” she told one interviewer.

“And from my perspective, it matters what we do, not what we say. It matters that we got bin Laden, not what name we called him,” Clinton said.

Clinton, seeking to become the first female U.S. president, said that if Trump “is somehow suggesting I don’t call this for what it is, he hasn’t been listening. I have clearly said we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering people. We have to stop them and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism, and we will.” (VOA)

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Migrant Surge at US- Mexico Border Accelerates

More than 300,000 mostly Central American undocumented immigrants apprehended or requesting asylum so far in the current fiscal year

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Migrant Surge, US- Mexico Border
The Trump administration has requested supplemental funds for the current fiscal year and substantial increases in next year's DHS budget to address the border crisis. Pixabay

The Trump administration on Thursday said a surge of migrant arrivals at the southern U.S. border continues to accelerate, with more than 300,000 mostly Central American undocumented immigrants apprehended or requesting asylum so far in the current fiscal year, which began last October.

“We are in the midst of an ongoing humanitarian and security crisis at the southwest border,” acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told a Senate panel. “Almost 110,000 migrants attempted to cross without legal status last month, the most in over a decade, and over 65% were families and unaccompanied children.”

At the current pace, 2019’s total for migrant arrivals would more than triple the number reported for all of 2018, which was 169,000.

Factors in migration

McAleenan said that while gang violence and rampant insecurity in three Central American nations has started to ebb, other factors, such as persistent droughts and a lack of economic opportunity, continue to compel a large number of people to trek north.

Migrant Surge, US- Mexico Border
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in Washington, May 23, 2019. VOA

The DHS acting secretary also highlighted U.S. policy as a “pull factor” for migrants.

“Families [apprehended at the border] can no longer be held together through an appropriate and fair proceeding, and essentially have a guarantee of release and an indefinite stay in the United States,” McAleenan told the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “It’s been exploited by smugglers who are advertising that opportunity, and that’s what’s causing the significant surge that we see this year.”

The administration’s handling of migrant children continued to be a focus of congressional scrutiny after news broke earlier this week that a sixth minor — a 10-year-old girl from El Salvador — had died in U.S. government custody.

“We all agree that we must absolutely secure our borders, but the death of children in custody is simply unacceptable,” the panel’s top Democrat, Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, said. “We must identify what went wrong and ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

Overwhelmed system

McAleenan said he has directed that all arriving children receive health screenings, and that, on average, 65 migrants are taken to hospitals daily. Overall, he pointed to an overwhelmed system pushed to the breaking point.

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“Given the scale of what we are facing, we will exhaust our resources before the end of this fiscal year,” said McAleenan, who also serves as chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency within DHS.

The Trump administration has requested supplemental funds for the current fiscal year and substantial increases in next year’s DHS budget to address the border crisis. The panel’s chairman echoed the calls.

“This is a growing crisis and we have to … pass that emergency spending bill,” Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said.

While agreeing that more resources are needed, several lawmakers said money alone can’t resolve the situation.

FILE – In this April 29, 2019, photo, Cuban migrants are escorted by Mexican immigration officials in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, as they cross the Paso del Norte International bridge to be processed as asylum seekers on the U.S. side of the border. VOA

“I think the smartest thing we could actually do would be comprehensive immigration reform, and God willing, someday we’ll get back and do that,” Delaware Democratic Sen. Tom Carper said. (VOA)