Even as his administration fights for its travel ban from several Muslim-majority countries, President Donald 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.
Trump’s Sunday speech, the centerpiece of his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, will address the leaders of 50 Muslim-majority countries 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.
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 criticized 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 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 center.
The president began Sunday with a meeting with the king of Bahrain. Trump said the two countries “have a wonderful relationship” but that “there has been a little strain” and vowed to improve things further. Trump did not specify what tension he needed to resolve. The two countries have had a long-term military alliance, though the U.S. was critical of Bahrain’s response to uprisings during the Arab Spring.
Trump’s prepared address also notably refrains from mentioning democracy and human rights — topics Arab leaders often view as U.S. moralizing — in favor of the more limited goals of peace and stability.
“We are not here to lecture…