WASHINGTON – In perhaps the most forceful public call by any U.S. president to Sunni Islamic leaders, Donald Trump urged Saudi Arabia and its allies to drive terrorists out of their mosques, out of their communities, out of their land and off the face of the Earth.
The speech Sunday was delivered to a rousing ovation on his trip to Saudi Arabia, where he was welcomed a day before with pomp and circumstance, hospitality and respect.
“Our vision is one of peace, security, and prosperity – in this region, and in the world,” Trump said. “Our goal is a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honor to God.”
Trump thanked Saudi King Salman for the gracious welcome Team Trump, including his wife, Melania and daughter Ivanka, received.
“For Americans, this is an exciting time,” he said. “A new spirit of optimism is sweeping our country: in just a few months, we have created almost a million new jobs, added over 3 trillion dollars of new value, lifted the burdens on American industry, and made record investments in our military that will protect the safety of our people and enhance the security of our wonderful friends and allies – many of whom are here today.”
Watch President Trump’s full speech:
The agreement reached, he said, includes $110 billion Saudi-funded defense purchase designed to permit an increased military role for the kingdom in future security operations.
“Later today, we will make history again with the opening of a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology – located right here, in this central part of the Islamic World,” he said. “This groundbreaking new center represents a clear declaration that Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combating radicalization, and I want to express our gratitude to King Salman for this strong demonstration of leadership.”
The tone of the speech was optimistic and hopeful.
“America is a sovereign nation and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens,” Trump said. “We are not here to lecture – we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership – based on shared interests and values – to pursue a better future for us all.”
The central goal was unambiguous and repeated often throughout the address – “to conquer extremism and vanquish the forces of terrorism.”
“Young Muslim boys and girls should be able to grow up free from fear, safe from violence, and innocent of hatred,” he said. “And young Muslim men and women should have the chance to build a new era of prosperity for themselves and their peoples. With God’s help, this summit will mark the beginning of the end for those who practice terror and spread its vile creed. At the same time, we pray this special gathering may someday be remembered as the beginning of peace in the Middle East – and maybe, even all over the world. But this future can only be achieved through defeating terrorism and the ideology that drives it.”
Trump singled out specific targets: “ISIS, al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams.”
“Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person, and falsely invokes the name of God, it should be an insult to every person of faith,” he said. “Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death.”
The speech stood in stark contrast to those delivered by other recent presidents – both Republican and Democrat.
“If we do not stand in uniform condemnation of this killing – then not only will we be judged by our people, not only will we be judged by history, but we will be judged by God,” the president said. “This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it. This is a battle between good and evil.”
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Trump said the “path to peace begins right here, on this ancient soil, in this sacred land. America is prepared to stand with you – in pursuit of shared interests and common security. But the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children. It is a choice between two futures – and it is a choice America cannot make for you. A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out. DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship. DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities. DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH.”
“We must seek partners, not perfection – and to make allies of all who share our goals,” he added. “Above all, America seeks peace – not war. Muslim nations must be willing to take on the burden, if we are going to defeat terrorism and send its wicked ideology into oblivion. The first task in this joint effort is for your nations to deny all territory to the foot soldiers of evil. Every country in the region has an absolute duty to ensure that terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil.”
Trump said this alliance includes “standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians.”
Neither Melania nor Ivanka Trump covered their heads in their meetings with the King and royal family. Both shook hands with the king.
In some of the strongest words of his speech, Trump said: “Religious leaders must make this absolutely clear: Barbarism will deliver you no glory – piety to evil will bring you no dignity. If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and YOUR SOUL WILL BE CONDEMNED.”