Obama: Expose extremists' ideologies

The Muslim world can do more to counter the spread of extremist ideologies by cutting off funding to terrorist groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and shrinking their presence online, US President Barack Obama said yesterday.

He made a plea to Muslim countries, in particular, to take on what he said was the source of terrorism. While addressing the need for global action on various challenges, he also called for more attention to be paid to the young.

"It is time for the world - especially Muslim communities - to explicitly, forcefully and consistently reject the ideology of Al-Qaeda and ISIL," Mr Obama said during his address at the opening session of the UN General Assembly in New York, using an alternative name for ISIS.

"It is time for a new compact among the civilised peoples of this world to eradicate war at its most fundamental source: the corruption of young minds by violent ideology."

He urged Muslim nations to cut off funding for groups that promote extremism and also to contest the space that these terrorists occupy online.

One trademark of ISIS - which has attracted some 15,000 foreign fighters - has been its effective use of social media platforms such as Twitter and YouTube.

"Their propaganda has coerced young people to travel abroad to fight their wars... We must offer an alternative vision," said Mr Obama.

He held up as good examples the activities of various young Muslims, such as the British group which started the #notinmyname campaign on Twitter to denounce ISIS ideology.

"The ideology of ISIL or Al-Qaeda or Boko Haram will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed, confronted and refuted in the light of day," he said. Boko Haram is a militant Nigerian group that kidnapped over 100 girls this year as part of its opposition to education for women.

Mr Obama also stressed that countries should focus on developing the potential of their youth, this time highlighting Malaysia and Indonesia as good examples.

He said: "We see it in Malaysia, where vibrant entrepreneurship is propelling a former colony into the ranks of advanced economies. And we see it in Indonesia, where what began as a violent transition has evolved into a genuine democracy."

This article was first published on Sep 25, 2014.
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