Accessibility links

President Bush, King Abdullah to Discuss King's Promotion of Moderate Islam

President Bush is to meet Thursday with Jordan's King Abdullah to discuss developments in the Middle East and the king's initiative to promote moderate Islam and denounce terrorism.

Jordan's King Abdullah has become a major force in confronting radical Islam in an effort to prevent what he calls a clash of civilizations between Western and Muslim nations.

At the beginning of his current visit to the United States, King Abdullah spoke at the Catholic University of America where he said terrorists do not speak for the Islamic faith.

"The ultimate goal is to take back our religion from the vocal, violent, and ignorant extremists who have tried to hijack Islam over the last hundred years," he said. "They do not speak for Islam any more than a Christian terrorist speaks for Christianity and the real voices of our faiths will be and must be heard."

King Abdullah spoke of the Amman Message, a Jordanian initiative that outlines Islam's social values of compassion, respect and tolerance and rejects Muslim isolation from the global movement of human society.

In July, he hosted an international conference of Islamic scholars that agreed in a statement that religious edicts cannot be handed down by people such as al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

King Abdullah is urging people of all faiths to work together for what he calls an open world and against radical elements who want conflicts to occur.

"Another critical effort is faith-based action," he said. "History shows that at one time or another, all religions have faced extremists who abuse the power of faith.

"But moral leadership cannot be hijacked," continued King Abdullah. "Today traditional, moderate, orthodox Muslims are reclaiming our Islam, Islam as it has been taught and practiced for over a thousand years - a religion of tolerance, wisdom and charity."

King Abdullah and President Bush are expected to discuss recent developments in the Middle East, including the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and a small portion of the West Bank.

During his current trip, the king met in New York with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Officials close to the talks who asked not to be identified said the king emphasized there should be further withdrawals from the West Bank. He also stressed the importance of the Palestinian Authority imposing law and order in Gaza, where chaos rocked the territory in the immediate aftermath of the pullback following 38 years of occupation.

The day before coming to the United States, King Abdullah met with Pope Benedict at his summer residence outside Rome.

Following the king's speech at Catholic University, the archbishop of Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick praised the Jordanian monarch for his message of moderation and tolerance.

"Your majesty this was a very important and powerful talk," he said. "You said things that we have looked forward to hearing from major Muslim leaders in our world today. You have shown an enormous leadership. It is courage that is needed to have that leadership and we are so proud of you that you have it."

A White House statement announcing King Abdullah's visit says President Bush is looking forward to discussing the king's initiative promoting moderate Islam, the progress of reform in Jordan, as well as other bilateral and regional issues.