Extremists have distorted Islam: Barack Obama


US President Barack Obama on Sunday regretted that the "great religion" of Islam has been distorted by a few extremists to justify violence towards innocent people and called for isolating these elements.

Obama also said that people will have to fundamentally reject the notion that violence is the way to mediate differences among them.

"I think all of us have to fundamentally reject the notion that violence is the way to mediate our differences," he added.

The US president expressed these views when a Muslim student A Ansari lobbed a question asking for his views on 'jehad" during his interaction with students of St Xavier's college here.

"I think all of us recognise that this great religion (Islam) in the hands of a few extremists has been distorted to justify violence towards innocent people that is never justified," he said.

"So, one of the challenges the world faces is how to "isolate" those who have these distorted notions of religious war... and reaffirm those who see faces of all sorts whether you are a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian and a Jew or any other religion that we can all treat each other with respect and mutual dignity," he added.

Obama said the phrase 'Jihad' has different interpretations. Islam is one of the great religions and majority of one billion Muslims believe in peace, justice and tolerance, he added.

The President also said the existence of diverse religious beliefs was a "major challenge" not only in India but also around the world.

He said the youth of the world can make a huge impact in re-affirming that one can be a strong observer of one's faith without putting somebody else down or visiting violence on somebody else.

Religious tolerance is necessary in a world that is getting smaller and smaller where more and more people of different backgrounds, different races, different ethnicities are interacting and working and learning from each other, Obama added.

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