Piers Morgan writes:
Donald Trump could have taken the easy route with his first foreign trip.
He could have flown over to friendly neighbours Canada, knocked off a few eye-pleasing photo ops with Justin Trudeau, said how much he loves maple syrup and smashed a few positive headline home runs.
But nothing President Trump ever does is easy, for anybody.
Instead, he decided to jet into Saudi Arabia, the very heart of the Muslim world, and give the leaders of 55 Muslim states some much-needed home truths.
It was an extraordinary moment to watch the President of the United States stand in Riyadh’s King Abdul Aziz Conference Center and let his audience have it right between the eyes about their responsibility for tackling terror groups like ISIS.
‘A better future is only possibly if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists,’ Trump said, in an unusually calm, measured but emphatic tone.
‘Drive. Them. Out. Drive them out of your places of worship, drive them out of your communities, drive them out of the holy land, and drive them out of this Earth!’
Yes, yes, YES.
Whatever you think of Trump, and he is currently right up there with the most divisive people in history, this was a stunningly bold and courageous thing to do.
This, remember, is a guy who’s not exactly Mr Popular in the Muslim community. Someone who many assume hates all Muslims because he wanted them banned from America.
Now he’s in a room surrounded by hundreds of the most powerful Muslims in the world and arrogantly expects them to listen to his opinion on what to do with Muslim terrorists.
Yet they did listen, intently.
And at the end of the speech, many of them applauded.
Why? Because Trump perfectly summed up the reality of the global war on Islamist terror: it will only be defeated by decent, law-abiding Muslims renouncing and denouncing the vile extremists in their midst and preventing them from radicalizing vulnerable minds to their medieval cause.
‘This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilisations,’ Trump said, choosing his words not only very carefully but very differently to the ones he so recklessly tossed around about Islam and Muslims during his election campaign. ‘This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.’
He called Islam ‘one of the world’s great faiths’, dismissed ‘Islamists’ as the ‘footsoldiers of evil’, stated that ‘95% of the victims of terrorism are themselves Muslim’, and urged his audience not to wait for American power to sort out the problem.
‘Muslim majority countries must take the lead in stamping out radicalization,’ Trump beseeched.
Then he played the unifying religious card.
‘If we do not stand in uniform condemnation of this killing, then we will not only be judged by our people, not only will we be judged by history, but we will be judged by God.’