Washington: US President Barack Obama
Wednesday said there was a tendency among radicals to portray as
"anti-Islam" any effort towards democratisation, but insisted
that vast majority of the followers of the "great religion"
had rejected the extremist approach.
"Islam is a great religion. It is one that has
prospered side by side with other religions within Africa. And
one of the great strengths of Africa is its diversity not only
of faith, but of races and ethnicities," Obama said in an
interview to the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
"But what you have seen in terms of radical Islam is
an approach that says that any efforts to modernise, any
efforts to provide basic human rights, any efforts to
democratise are somehow anti-Islam. And I think that is
absolutely wrong," Obama said.
"I think the vast majority of people of the Islamic
faith reject that. I think the people of Africa reject it,"
the US President said in his first television interview after
the attack by Al-Shabaab terrorist outfit killed more than 70
people in Kampala.
Some of the statements made by terror groups showed
that they did not regard African life as valuable and saw the
continent as a potential place to carry out ideological
battles, he said.
Hence, it was important to carry on developmental work
in the continent so that African countries would make their
way to prosperity, Obama said, adding the US could be an
effective partner in this aspect.
The US President also argued that extremism or
radicalism cannot be linked to poverty alone.
"It`s not just link to poverty. I mean, I think
there`s an ideological component to it that also has to be
rejected. Obviously young people, if they don`t have
opportunity, are more vulnerable to these misguided
"But we also have to directly confront the fact that
issues like anti-democratic, anti-free speech, anti-freedom of
religion agenda, which is what an organisation like Al-Shabaab
promotes, also often goes hand-in-hand with violence," he
Mandela a model of leadership
Nelson Mandela continues to
be a role model of leadership for the entire world and his
legacy is a "good guidepost" for present administrators in
this aspect, Obama said today.
"He continues to be a model of leadership not just for
South Africa, but for the world. So we celebrate him here in
the United States, as you do in South Africa. We wish him all
the best," Obama said in an interview to the South African
"We are constantly reminded that his legacy of seeing
every person as important and not making distinctions based on
race or class but the degree to which they are people of
character -- that`s a good guidepost for how all of us should
operate as leaders," he said.
Mandela, the anti-apartheid activist and former
president of South Africa, turns 92 on Sunday.
Obama, who spoke to him recently after the tragic
death of his granddaughter, said Mandela sounded as clear and
charming as he always has been.
"Nelson Mandela set us on a path in understanding the
standards of leadership that are needed, and I think those
standards can be met. You`re seeing countries around the
continent who are starting to meet those high standards that
are so necessary to ultimately help the people," Obama said.