WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama today slammed Republican presidential presumptive nominee Donald Trump for his anti-Muslim rhetoric, saying "loose talk" about Muslims was betraying American values and harming their fight against extremism.
"For a while now, the main contribution of some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have made in the fight against ISIL is to criticise the administration and me for not using the phrase 'radical Islam'. That's the key, they tell us. We cannot beat ISIL unless we call them radical Islamists," Obama said, referring to the allegations being made by Trump.
"Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction," Obama said.
Obama said the argument of labels has mostly been partisan rhetoric and harming America's fight against terrorism.
"Now, up until this point, this argument of labels has mostly just been partisan rhetoric, and sadly, we have all become accustomed to that kind of partisanship, even when it involves the fight against these extremist groups," he said.
"But we are now seeing how dangerous this kind of mindset and this kind of thinking can be. We are starting to see where this kind of rhetoric and loose talk and sloppiness about who exactly we are fighting, where this can lead us," he added.
"We now have proposals from the presumptive Republican nominee for president of the United States to bar all Muslims from immigrating into America. And you hear language that singles out immigrants and suggests entire religious communities are complacent in violence," he said.
"Since before I was president, I have been clear about how extremist groups have perverted Islam to justify terrorism. As president, I have called on our Muslim friends and allies at home and around the world to work with us to reject this twisted interpretation of one of the world's great religions," he said.
Obama said there has not been a moment in his 7.5 years as president where he has not able to pursue a strategy because they didn't use the label "radical Islam".