Muslim Group Cites Biden as Referring to Extremist Violence ‘in the Name of the Bible’

Patrick Goodenough | February 17, 2015 | 6:01pm EST
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Vice-President Joe Biden addresses a White House panel discussion on ‘countering violent extremism’ on Tuesday, February 17, 2015. (Image: C-SPAN)

( – A U.S. Islamic advocacy group says that Vice- President Joe Biden, addressing a White House summit on “countering violent extremism (CVE)” on Tuesday, referred to right-wing extremists and supremacists committing violence “in the name of the Bible.”

The comments did not feature in Biden’s 19 minute-long opening remarks, televised by C-SPAN, in which the vice-president focused on America as a nation of immigrants, the need for different communities to “see” each other, and for countries to engage with “marginalized” communities.

“Biden just talked about the right wing militias & supremacist groups that are violent in the name of the Bible,” the Washington-based Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) tweeted later in the afternoon.

“We wanted them (WH) to include other type of violent extremists. Now they have, let’s keep asking and push,” MPAC said.


MPAC has not responded to an invitation to comment further.

President Obama drew flak earlier this month with National Prayer Breakfast remarks that appeared to draw a comparison between terrorists invoking the Qur’an and violence perpetrated “in the name of Christ,” citing the Crusades, Inquisition, Jim Crow laws and slavery.

The administration’s so-called CVE initiative focuses domestically on pilot programs in Los Angeles, Minneapolis-Saint Paul and Boston, where officials work with local communities in a bid to deter extremism.

Some U.S. Islamic organizations have expressed unhappiness about the initiative, which they perceive as unfairly focusing on Muslim communities. White House officials have made an evident effort to downplay the religious affiliation and declared theological motivation of terrorists responsible for attacks in the Middle East and Europe.

In his opening remarks at Tuesday’s panel discussion, Biden said the U.S. and other countries need to tackle violent extremism not just by using force, but by engaging communities that are “marginalized.”

“We have to work from the ground up and engage our communities, and engage those who might be susceptible to being radicalized because they are marginalized.”

“Societies have to provide an affirmative alternative for immigrant communities, a sense of opportunity, a sense of belonging that discredits the terrorist appeal to fear, isolation, hatred, resentment,” he said.

Biden said that as “a nation of immigrants” the U.S. had more experience to offer.

“I am not suggesting … that I think America has all of the answers here. We just have a lot more experience,” he said.

He also referred to the ideological element behind terrorist violence.

When Obama led an initiative on combating foreign terrorist fighters at the U.N. last September, Biden said, “leader after leader explained that it’s not enough to take on these networks of extremists who wish to do us harm. We also have to take on the ideology that attracts foreign fighters from all around the world to join them.”

During a background briefing Monday on the three-day CVE summit, an administration official was asked about use of the phrase “vulnerable community,” which a questioner said was regarded by some as stigmatizing Muslims.

“We want to be clear that the evidence doesn’t show that there’s any particular community – there’s no profile that we can point to say this person is from this community, is going to be radicalized to violence,” the official replied.

One of the briefing officials acknowledged that those responsible for terrorist attacks in Paris and elsewhere “are calling themselves Muslims and their warped interpretation of Islam is what motivated them to commit these acts.”

“They’re not making any secret of that, and neither are we. But we are very, very clear that we do not believe that they are representing Islam,” the official added.

“We are not treating these people as part of a religion. We’re treating them as terrorists. We call them our enemies and we’ll be treating them as such.”

Obama is scheduled to speak twice at CVE summit events – at the White House on Wednesday and at a meeting of minister-level representatives from some 60 countries at the State Department on Thursday.

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