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Donald Trump to deliver speech on Islam to Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia

President will give ‘direct speech’ on how to combat extremism, says his national security adviser

Rachael Revesz
Wednesday 17 May 2017 10:27 BST
Mr Trump's itinerary and subject matter mirrors that of former President Obama in 2009
Mr Trump's itinerary and subject matter mirrors that of former President Obama in 2009 (Reuters)

Donald Trump will give a speech on combatting radical Islam to a group of Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia during his first trip abroad as US President.

Mr Trump will speak to around 50 Muslim leaders and will take part in opening a centre there which is dedicated to promote moderate Islam, said national security adviser H R McMaster.

The President will “will deliver an inspiring but direct speech on the need to confront radical ideology and the president’s hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam to dominate across the world,” Mr McMaster said.

“The speech is intended to unite the broader Muslim world against common enemies of all civilization and to demonstrate America’s commitment to our Muslim partners,” Mr McMaster added.

Saudi Arabia will be the first country Mr Trump will visit since his Inauguration.

Although Mr Trump’s itinerary might mirror that of former President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo in 2009, where he spoke of violent extremism and “tensions” between the communities, it is likely the style and substance of Mr Trump’s speech will be significantly different.

The week-long trip abroad will include discussing selling $100 billion worth of weapons to the Saudis, followed by a visit with the Pope.

The address to Muslim leaders comes after a rise in the number of terrorist bombings and deadly attacks across Europe, including in Turkey, the UK, France and Germany.

Saudi Arabia was accused of producing the terrorists who flew into Manhattan’s Twin Towers in 2001 and killed close to 3,000 people, but it was not on the list of seven Muslim-majority countries affected by the President’s immigration and refugee suspension.

His executive order was later struck down by federal courts.

There has also been a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes and bias incidents, particularly in the US. The FBI reported a spike in such incidents of 67 per cent in 2015.

Mr Trump was accused by critics of stoking this wave of attacks by engaging in anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

In December 2015 he proposed to ban all Muslims from entering the US and claimed that he saw Muslim people “clapping and cheering” as the Twin Towers fell.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations also recorded “unprecedented levels” of anti-Muslim incidents and attacks against mosques across the US.

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