White House Aide Won’t Say If Trump Considers Islam To Be A Religion

Today on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” Sebastian Gorka, who as deputy assistant to the president serves as one of President Trump’s security advisers, spoke with host Steve Inskeep about Trump’s controversial use of the term “radical Islamic terrorism,” which security experts fear could alienate Muslims and help bolster terrorist propaganda that the U.S. is waging a religious war against Islam.

Gorka, who has faced criticism for his lack of experience, bizarre treatment of critics and ties to anti-Semitic and far-right groups, told Inskeep that the president must use the term because “the threat has been obfuscated for eight years under Obama.”

“We’re not going to listen to so-called terrorism experts who were linked in any way to the last eight years of disastrous counter-terrorism,” he said.

When Inskeep asked him if the president believes that “Islam is a religion,” noting that now former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn described Islam as a political ideology that disguises itself as a religion, Gorka refused to answer one way or another.

“This is not a theological seminary, this is the White House and we’re not going to get into theological debates,” he said. “If the president has a certain attitude to a certain religion, that’s something you can ask him. But we’re talking about national security and the totalitarian ideologies that drive the groups that threaten America.”

Trump, who once called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” said last year that “Islam hates us” and that it’s “very hard to separate” radical Islam from all of Islam “because you don’t know who’s who.”

Gorka also reaffirmed that Trump will soon issue a new executive order barring people from several Muslim countries from coming to the U.S.: “We know that there will be jihadis coming from those seven nations trying to do us harm. We’re not going to wait until 82 people are mowed down by a truck here in America as they were in France.”

The order, according to CNN, has been delayed in order not to “undercut the favorable coverage” Trump received following his speech to Congress.