Obama: Why I won’t say ‘Islamic terrorism’

Updated 4:49 PM EDT, Thu September 29, 2016
president obama town hall radical islam sot_00012020.jpg
president obama town hall radical islam sot_00012020.jpg
Now playing
02:57
Obama: Why I won't say 'Islamic terrorism'
Brooke Baldwin last show goodbye CNN newsroom vpx_00000217.png
CNN
Brooke Baldwin last show goodbye CNN newsroom vpx_00000217.png
Now playing
03:56
'Get a little uncomfortable': See Brooke Baldwin's last words on air
Now playing
01:24
How Kyra Sedgwick got the cops called on Tom Cruise
Now playing
05:18
Anderson Cooper explains how he overcomes being shy
US Navy
Now playing
01:28
Pentagon confirms UFO video is real, taken by Navy pilot
Kristina Barboza
Now playing
03:09
Grieving mom's advice to other families: You can try to help, support and love
Fancy Feast/Purina
Now playing
01:06
Cat food company makes a cookbook ... for humans
Now playing
02:35
WWII veteran: End of the war was 'the biggest thrill of my life'
Google Earth's new timelapse feature
Google
Google Earth's new timelapse feature
Now playing
01:09
Google Earth's new Timelapse feature shows 40 years of climate change in just seconds
FOX/"The Masked Singer"
Now playing
01:23
'The Masked Singer' reveals identity of The Orca
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07:  A visual representation of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin on December 07, 2017 in London, England. Cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Lightcoin have seen unprecedented growth in 2017, despite remaining extremely volatile. While digital currencies across the board have divided opinion between financial institutions, and now have a market cap of around 175 Billion USD, the crypto sector coninues to grow, as it continues to see wider mainstreem adoption. The price of one Bitcoin passed 15,000 USD across many exchanges today taking it higher than previous all time highs.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07: A visual representation of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin on December 07, 2017 in London, England. Cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Lightcoin have seen unprecedented growth in 2017, despite remaining extremely volatile. While digital currencies across the board have divided opinion between financial institutions, and now have a market cap of around 175 Billion USD, the crypto sector coninues to grow, as it continues to see wider mainstreem adoption. The price of one Bitcoin passed 15,000 USD across many exchanges today taking it higher than previous all time highs. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:07
Bitcoin has an energy problem
The new all-electric Mercedes-EQS
Mercedes-Benz AG
The new all-electric Mercedes-EQS
Now playing
01:05
See the new all-electric EQS luxury sedan from Mercedes
Now playing
01:32
Scientists turned spiderwebs into music and it sounds like a nightmare
Jeopardy Productions, Inc.
Now playing
01:02
Aaron Rodgers' Green Bay Packers question stumps 'Jeopardy!' contestants
Now playing
05:18
Coinbase CFO: We're an on-ramp to the crypto economy
CNN
Now playing
02:12
'Too dangerous to do anymore': Sacha Baron Cohen on Borat

Story highlights

Obama says he doesn't want to associate the religion of Islam to people who are "murderers"

"There's no religious rational that would justify in any way any of the things that they do," he says

(CNN) —  

President Barack Obama has taken a lot of criticism from political opponents over his rhetoric when it comes to terrorism. But on Wednesday at a CNN presidential town hall, he was asked to defend why he refuses to say “Islamic” terrorism to a Gold Star mother.

“My son gave his life for acts of terrorism,” audience member Tina Houchins told Obama at the town hall moderated by CNN’s Jake Tapper. “Do you still believe that the acts of terrorism are done for the self-proclaimed Islamic religious motive? And if you do, why do you still refuse to use the term … Islamic terrorist?”

Obama called it a “sort of manufactured” issue.

“There is no doubt, and I’ve said repeatedly, where we see terrorist organizations like al Qaeda or ISIL – They have perverted and distorted and tried to claim the mantle of Islam for an excuse for basically barbarism and death,” he said.

“These are people who’ve killed children, killed Muslims, take sex slaves, there’s no religious rationale that would justify in any way any of the things that they do,” he said. “But what I have been careful about when I describe these issues is to make sure that we do not lump these murderers into the billion Muslims that exist around the world, including in this country, who are peaceful, who are responsible, who, in this country, are fellow troops and police officers and fire fighters and teachers and neighbors and friends.”

Exclusive: Obama says Congress made a ‘political vote’ overriding his veto of Saudi lawsuit bill

The President compared using the term to if a Christian were a murderer but claiming their religion in their actions.

“If you had an organization that was going around killing and blowing people up and said, ‘We’re on the vanguard of Christianity.’ As a Christian, I’m not going to let them claim my religion and say, ‘you’re killing for Christ.’ I would say, that’s ridiculous,” Obama said.

“That’s not what my religion stands for. Call these folks what they are, which is killers and terrorists,” he added.

At one point, Obama said that the danger of using the term is when “a president or people aspiring to become president get loose with this language.”

Tapper interjected: “You were clearly talking about the Republican nominee Donald Trump just then –”

“No, I wasn’t,” Obama said. “It’s not unique to the Republican nominee. Look, I’m trying to be careful, we’re on a military base, I don’t insert partisan politics into this. I think that there have been a number of public figures where you start hearing commentary that is dangerous. Because what it starts doing is it starts dividing us up as Americans.”

After the Orlando shootings in June, Trump used the term “radical Islamic terrorism” to describe the motives. It became a topic of the election after he publicly criticized Obama and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for not using the term.