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Reza Aslan on the Islamic State: There’s no diplomacy, they have to be destroyed

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Religious scholar Reza Aslan said Monday that Islamic State jihadists needed to be destroyed with military might, and disputed characterizations of Islam as a religion of violence — or a religion of peace.

“I think from what we understand about what the president’s going to say, the threefold structure of his plan of attack is the right one,” Aslan, a professor at the University of California, Riverside, told CNN. “Number one, you do have to respond militarily to ISIS soldiers and fighters. These guys are fighting a war of the imagination, a war that they think is happening between the forces of good and evil. There is no negotiation. There’s no diplomacy. There’s nothing to talk about with these guys. They have to be destroyed.”

President Barack Obama will make a speech Wednesday, on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in 2001, to announce his strategy defeat the Islamic State militants who have rampaged through Iraq and Syria, and published videos showing the beheading of two U.S. journalists.

“What makes ISIS so powerful and potent is that they have managed to use grievances that a lot of Iraqis have, that a lot of Syrians have, frankly, that a lot of Muslims around the world have had, to draw people to their cause,” Aslan added. “And unless those grievances can be addressed, the appeal of a group like ISIS isn’t going to work. And then, finally, of course, you have got to deal with the mess in Syria eventually.”

CNN host Don Lemon asked Aslan to respond to a tweet sent out by Bill Maher last month, in which the comedian commented on a recent Islamic State beheading video by saying “by all means lets keep pretending all religions are alike.”

Aslan said it was unfair to characterize Islam as a religion of violence.

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“Well, Islam isn’t a violent religion or a peaceful religion,” he said. “It’s just a religion. And like all religions, it is absolutely dependent on the interpretation of whomever follows it.”

But Aslan also said it was unfair to characterize Islam as a religion of peace. Religious extremists were still adherents of the faith, even if moderates disagreed with their views.

“I completely understand why most people of faith, regardless of the faith, think that the radicals and extremists within their faith are not really Jews, are not really Christians, are not really Muslims,” he explained.

“But the fact of the matter is, is a Muslim is whoever says he’s a Muslim. A Jew is whoever says he’s a Jew. The problem, however, is when we take the actions of an infinitesimal group and make it somehow predictive of the actions of everyone else, 1.6 billion Muslims in this case, that’s when the argument becomes completely strained and unbelievable. ”

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“But the fact of the matter is, if you’re a violent, war-mongering person, you can find justification in any scripture. If you’re a peaceful, pluralistic person, you can find justification for your views in the exact same scriptures.”

Watch video, uploaded to YouTube by CNN, below:

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Prosecutors offered indicted GOP congressman a deal to keep his multiple taxpayer-funded trysts quiet — but he refused

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On Tuesday, CNN reported that Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), facing indictment for stealing campaign funds and falsifying spending reports, was offered a deal by to keep secret the incidents in which he used taxpayer money to finance affairs with lobbyists — but he refused.

"Prosecutors told a judge they tried to cut a deal with Hunter to avoid revealing the alleged tryst, but his attorneys refused," reported CNN's Tom Foreman.

The affairs were made public shortly after it was revealed that Hunter's wife Margaret, an alleged co-conspirator in the scheme, was cooperating with prosecutors. Hunter had previously tried to blame the entire scheme on his wife — a claim that looks increasingly dubious.

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Soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe profanely rips Trump and vows she won’t go to the White House

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U.S. women's national soccer team star Megan Rapinoe will not be visiting the White House if the team successfully repeats their Women's World Cup victory.

"I'm not going to the f*cking White House," she told Eight By Eight Magazine.

"We're not going to be invited," she added.

On Monday, President Donald Trump ripped Rapinoe for protesting during the national anthem.

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Ted Cruz slapped down at Senate hearing for ‘working the refs’ to keep extremist content on social media

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was called out for "working the referees" by attempting to "terrify" technology company executives into not enforcing their own rules against political extremism.

The Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet on Tuesday held a hearing titled, “Optimizing for Engagement: Understanding the Use of Persuasive Technology on Internet Platforms.”

"I think these questions raise very serious -- these documents raise very serious questions about political bias at the company," Cruz said, referring to Google.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) responded.

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