Trump’s Saudi speech to condemn violence in name of religion


US President Donald Trump is expected to underline the need to confront extremism in Islam when he makes a speech in Saudi Arabia later on Sunday.

A leaked version of his speech says the fight against extremism “is not a battle between different faiths” but “a battle between good and evil”.

Mr Trump, who is on his first official trip abroad, will deliver the speech at a summit of regional leaders.

His harsh campaign rhetoric on Muslims stirred concern in the Islamic world.

Leaked excerpts of Mr Trump’s speech show he will attempt to strike a collaborative tone to bolster support for the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants.

Mr Trump is expected to say: “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.”

Media captionMelania Trump didn’t wear a headscarf, but does it matter?

He is also expected to call on Middle Eastern countries do more themselves to stamp out extremism, and not count on the US to counter the likes of IS.

“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,” he will say.

Mr Trump caused controversy during his campaign by calling for Muslims to be temporarily banned from entering the US over security concerns. Legislation aimed at restricting travel from several Muslim-majority countries remains tied up in the US courts.

The excerpts indicate a softer tone from Mr Trump, and do not include the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism”. In the past, he has criticised his predecessor, Barack Obama, and others for not employing these terms.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states represented at the conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh are involved in the fight against IS, but have been accused of backing the group and other Sunni militants – most notably in a 2014 email by Hillary Clinton released by Wikileaks.

They are expected to sign a deal with the US to co-ordinate their efforts aimed at cutting off sources of money for those groups.


Significance and sensitivity: By Frank Gardner, BBC Security Correspondent, Riyadh

President Trump’s keynote speech to more than 40 leaders of Muslim nations takes him into risky territory. White House briefers say it will be uplifting, inspirational and unifying, but also blunt. He is expected to tell governments they need to do more to stamp out religious intolerance and extremism.

This could go one of two ways. If he sticks to the script and presents his administration as being supportive and collegiate, avoiding the sort of inflammatory language he has used in the past, it should pass without incident.

But if he uses terms like “radical Islamic terrorism”, which he has in the past, or adopts a hectoring, authoritarian tone, then that is likely to cause considerable offence.

There is huge significance and sensitivity in the location here. Saudi Arabia is both the birthplace of Islam and home to the two most sacred pilgrimage sites for the millions who make the journey every year. Donald Trump’s speech is likely to be watched with a critical eye.


According to a report by CNN, the same man who wrote the travel ban – adviser Stephen Miller – has written Mr Trump’s speech about Islam.

Mr Trump has made a number of controversial comments about Islam, including suggesting he would be open to creating a database of all the Muslims in the US, linking the religion with violence.

Mr Trump’s eight-day trip will also take in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Brussels, the Vatican, and Sicily.

The president’s visit has been overshadowed by his political difficulties at home, namely the fallout over his sacking of FBI chief James Comey.

On Saturday, the US signed trade deals of $350bn (£270bn) with Saudi Arabia.

This included the largest arms deal ever made in US history, according to the White House. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said it was aimed at countering the “malign” influence of Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.

The agenda for the rest of Mr Trump’s trip

Map showing Donald Trump's first foreign trip - May 2017

Source: BBC News.

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