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Why some Muslims are frustrated by Obama's calls for them to end extremism
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Many members of the American Muslim community were frustrated by Obama's recent address on terrorism. - photo by Kelsey Dallas
As Muslim leaders speak out against terror and violence committed by individuals and groups claiming to share their faith, some American Muslims are expressing frustration at President Obama's call for Muslims to rid their communities of violent extremists.

"An extremist ideology has spread within some Muslims communities," Obama said Sunday from the Oval Office. "This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse. Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al-Qaida promote."

Muslim-Americans agree that extremists acting in the name of Islam should be stopped, but many question whether it's their responsibility to police groups who are related to their faith in name alone.

"We're not law-enforcement officials," Shahed Amanullah, a Washington, D.C.-based Muslim-American entrepreneur, told NPR. "We're community members and Americans like everybody else and to expect us to be on the front lines without having the capacity or the support would not be (productive.)"

Additionally, calls for continued action from Muslim-Americans threatens to undermine the work many members of the community are already doing, wrote Haroon Moghul, a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, in a column for CNN.

"American Muslims are often asked to condemn extremism, though we already do. Obama asked Muslims to 'root out misguided ideas,' though there are already many such efforts," he said. "Terrorists try to recruit from our communities, blow up our mosques, imperil our coexistence and empower our enemies, while at the same time we are assumed to be complicit in their violence."

One example of Muslim-initiated efforts to end extremism is "The Study Quran," which combines Islam's sacred text with commentary on why certain verses should not be taken as justification for violence. Muslim-American scholars present the new book as both a "rebuttal to terrorists" and an opportunity to educate non-Muslims about their religion, according to CNN.

Although the president has repeatedly spoken of the need to distinguish the religion of Islam from the terror committed in its name, Sunday's address was not the first time he singled out American Muslims and charged them with ending extremism. NPR recently summarized five other times he's said as much during his presidency.

"Even though Obama rejects profiling or doing things like keeping a database of Muslims, as Donald Trump suggests this president has put the onus on Muslim leaders and Muslim communities to fight attempts at radicalization," NPR reported.

As some Muslims express their frustration with this approach, others have said that it presents an opportunity for the community to take ownership over how their religion operates in the world. Wajahat Ali, author of "Fear Inc.," a study of American Islamophobia, told Moghul that Obama's call-to-action was a good thing.

Obama's call "is an opportunity for Muslim-Americans to emerge as the protagonists of their own narrative," he said.
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