Tina Houchins, a gold star mother in Ft. Lee, Va., asked President Barack Obama why he refused to identify terrorists as radical Islamic terrorists, during a town hall event with CNN.
Obama immediately dismissed her question, calling it a “manufactured” issue by his political opponents.
He repeated his argument that radical organizations like al-Qaeda or ISIS had “perverted and distorted” Islam as an excuse for terrorism. “There’s no religious rationale that would justify in any way any of the things that they do,” Obama said.
Houchins’ 19-year-old son Aaron Goteer was killed in Baghdad in 2007 by radical Islamic terrorists, but Obama explained that he was anxious to avoid offending Muslims around the world by lumping in violent terrorists with their religion.
“When you start calling these organizations Islamic terrorists, the way it’s heard, the way it’s received by our friends and allies around the world is that somehow Islam is terroristic,” he said. “And that then makes them feel as if they’re under attack.”
To illustrate his position, Obama suggested that if a Christian started killing people in the name of Christianity, he would be upset.
“If you had an organization that was going around killing and blowing people up and said we’re on the vanguard of Christianity, well, as a Christian, I’m not going to let them claim my religion and say you’re killing for Christ,” he said.
Obama warned Americans that rhetoric used by Republicans surrounding the Islamic religion was endangering the country, referring specifically to “people aspiring to become president.”
When CNN’s Jake Tapper suggested that the president must have been referring to Donald Trump, he denied it.
“No, I wasn’t,” he said, protesting that he didn’t want to talk partisan politics on a military base.
“It’s not unique to the Republican nominee,” he added. “I think that there have been a number of public figures where you start hearing commentary that is dangerous because what it starts doing is it starts dividing us up as Americans.”