Trump to speak on Islam — but maybe not 'radical Islamic terrorism' — to Muslim leaders

President Trump in Saudi Arabia
(Image credit: Mandel Ngan/Getty Images)

President Trump will address the leaders of 50 majority-Muslim nations Sunday in an "uplifting" but "blunt" speech on Islam and the war on terror. The talk is the keynote event of Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia, the first stop of his inaugural international tour as president.

A leaked draft of the speech did not contain the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism," which Trump highlighted throughout his campaign, accusing President Obama and Hillary Clinton of being soft on terror because they would not "state what the problem is or at least say the name."

In an interview to air Sunday, National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster was vague about whether the phrase would appear. "This is the president asking questions, listening, learning, and of course the president will call it whatever he wants to call it," he said. "Whatever we call it, we recognize that these are not religious people and in fact, these enemies of all civilization," McMaster added. "What they want to do is to cloak their criminal behavior under some false idea of a religious war."

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Observers are also watching to see if Trump's speech goes off-message to discuss the scandals and allegations plaguing his presidency, as well as whether he takes members of his audience, most notably his Saudi Arabian hosts, to task for human rights abuses.

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Bonnie Kristian

Bonnie Kristian was a deputy editor and acting editor-in-chief of She is a columnist at Christianity Today and author of Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community (forthcoming 2022) and A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today (2018). Her writing has also appeared at Time Magazine, CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative, among other outlets.