(CNSNews.com) - King Abdullah II of Jordan says the world is not doing enough to confront and defeat the "evil force" of extremists and terrorists who "seek global dominance" and want to "drag us back to the dark ages."
"How can we be effective in this fight when we haven't clearly defined who the enemy is? Who are we fighting with? And who are we fighting against?" Abdullah asked the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.
Adullah said he's struck by the "lack of understanding of the true nature of Islam" that he sees among many Western officials, think tanks, media and policymakers.
"I find myself stating the obvioius again and again," he said. "False perceptions of Islam and of Muslims will fuel the terrorist agenda of a global struggle, by polarizing and factionalizing societies East and West, each side stigmatizing the other, each driven deeper into mistrust and intolerance.
"Muslims, a quarter of the world's population, citizens of every country, have a central role in the future of our planet. Muslim men and women bring to the world a rich heritage of civic responsibility, justice, generosity, family life and a faith in God.
"When others exclude Muslims from fulfilling their role by prejudice or ignorance of what Islam is, or on the other hand when the outlaws of Islam, the khawarej, attempt to mislead some Muslims by deforming our religion through false teachings, our society's future is put at risk."
Abdullah said the khawarej abuse Islam when they murder, plunder, exploit children, treat women as inferior, persecute minorities, and deny freedom of religion.
"Islam teaches that all humanity is equal in dignity. There is no distinction among different nations or religions or races. The Quran forbids coercion in religion. Every citizen is guaranteed the state's protection for their lives, families, properties, honor, privacy and freedom of religion and thought," Abdullah said.
"The khawarej deliberately hide these truths about Islam in order to drive Muslims and non-Muslims apart. We cannot allow this to happen."
Abdullah said all peoples and religions must "fight together" against the outlaws of Islam.
"For Muslims, first and foremost, this is a fight for our future. All elements of our community have a role, not only mosques and religious centers, but media, schools and community leaders."
Abdullah said Muslims must help identify and counter those who "twist and distort true Islamic teaching."
He said the international community must cooperate on security and use technology to better communicate with each other and to counter the terrorists' message.
And Abdullah also had a stern message for neighboring Israel:
"We cannot decisively defeat the scourge of terror and violence without decisively rooting out the injustices that provide this fertile ground. From the prisons of Abu Ghraib, to the streets of Kabul, and schools in Aleppo, injustice and humiliation have left tremendous human suffering in their wake.
"No injustice has spread more bitter fruit than the denial of a Palestinian state. And I say peace is a conscious decision. Israel has to embrace peace or eventually be engulfed in a sea of hatred in a region of turmoil."
Abdullah said safeguarding Jerusalem is a key concern, "not only for my region but for the world. This is a priority for me personally and for all Muslims, and we utterly reject attacks on Muslim and Christian holy sites and any attempts to alter the historic Muslim, Christian and Arab identities of the Holy City."
Abdullah said the most "vital battleground" in the war on terror is the mind: "The despicable, damaging ideology of hate, murder and self-destruction, spread in crash courses online and elsewhere, must be confronted with a counter-narrative of hope, tolerance and peace.
"Together in this General Assembly and in our regions, countries and communities across the world, we have the power to create that counter-narrative. Let us show we also have the will to act."