ABC News Australia

Donald Trump to address Muslim world in major speech on terrorism

21 May 2017

Donald Trump shakes hands with Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

A keynote speech to the leaders of more than 40 Muslim nations is set to dominate the second day of US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia.

Key points:

  • Trump’s speech expected to cast the challenge of extremism as a “battle between good and evil”
  • Trump is expected to soften his language about Islam
  • Speech notably refrains from mentioning democracy and human rights

The leaders will be listening closely to Mr Trump’s words, worried he may repeat some of the rhetoric he has used about Islam in the past — including in March last year during his campaign when he said “Muslims hate us.”

Even as his administration fights for its travel ban from several Muslim-majority countries, Mr Trump is using the nation that is home to Islam’s holiest site as a backdrop to call for Muslim unity in the fight against terrorism.

 

The speech is expected to cast the challenge of extremism as a “battle between good and evil” and urge Arab leaders to “drive out the terrorists from your places of worship,” according to a draft of the speech obtained by The Associated Press.

Mr Trump, whose campaign was frequently punctuated by bouts of anti-Islamic rhetoric, is poised to soften some of his language about Islam.

Though during the campaign he repeatedly stressed the need to say the words “radical Islamic terrorism” — and criticised his opponent Hillary Clinton for not doing so — that phrase is not included in the draft.

The speech comes amid a renewed courtship of the United States’ Arab allies as Mr Trump is set to have individual meetings with leaders of several nations, including Egypt and Qatar, before then participating in a roundtable with the Gulf Cooperation Council and joining Saudi King Salman in opening Riyadh’s new anti-terrorism centre.

Trump vows to strengthen Bahrain ties

Mr Trump began his second day in Saudi Arabia with a meeting with the King of Bahrain.

 

 

Mr Trump said the two countries “have a wonderful relationship” but that “there has been a little strain” and vowed to improve things further. Mr Trump did not specify what tension he needed to resolve.

The two countries have had a long-term military alliance, though the US was critical of Bahrain’s response to uprisings during the Arab Spring.

The US President also met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during his time in Riyadh, and said he hopes to visit the country.

“I will get to Egypt. We will be putting that on the schedule soon,” he said.

He said Mr Sisi had “done a tremendous job under trying circumstances”.

Mr Trump’s prepared address notably refrains from mentioning democracy and human rights — topics Arab leaders often view as US moralising — in favour of the more limited goals of peace and stability.

“We are not here to lecture — to tell other peoples how to live, what to do or who to be. We are here instead to offer partnership in building a better future for us all,” he will say, according to the copy of his speech.

Two different sources provided the AP with copies of the draft of his remarks, billed as a marquee speech of the trip.

The White House confirmed the draft was authentic, but cautioned the President had not yet signed off on the final product and that changes could be made.

ABC/wires