U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's King Salman at the start of a bilateral meeting at Erga Palace in Riyadh January 27, 2015. Obama sought to cement ties with Saudi Arabia as he came to pay his respects on Tuesday after the death of King Abdullah, a trip that underscores the importance of a U.S.-Saudi alliance that extends beyond oil interests to regional security. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

U.S. President Barack Obama refused to consider it a “religious war” to fight against terrorism. He continued to avoid the phrase “Islamic extremism” as he said that the majority of Muslims “reject” such an ideology.

Obama said that he would not give a religious colour to the war against terrorism. He warned against the danger of “overinflating” the threat of terrorist organisations. He added that the United States should align itself with the majority of Muslims who disapproved of terror groups like al Qaeda and Islamic State. He said that the most of the Muslims reject the radical views of those organisations.

The U.S. president was talking to CNN's Fareed Zakaria who referred to Sen. Lindsey Graham’s worry that Obama did not admit it was a religious war. He also mentioned that the White House was accused of avoiding the term “Islamic terrorists.” He asked Obama if it was a war against radical Islam.

Obama said that it was an element growing out of Muslim communities in certain parts of the world that had perverted the religion. He called it a “nihilistic, violent, almost medieval interpretation of Islam.” “But it is absolutely true that I reject a notion that somehow that creates a religious war because the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject that interpretation of Islam,” Obama said, “They don't even recognize it as being Islam.”

The Washington Times reports that Republicans have been critical of the U.S. president for shying away from accepting that radical Islam is responsible for the terror threat the world is fighting. Graham earlier said that it bothered him when Obama and his chief spokesperson failed to admit that it was a religious war. According to Graham, the United States is in a religious war with radical Islamists.

Obama said that “99.9 percent of Muslims” believed in what everyone believed in: “order, peace, prosperity.” He added that the “hearts and minds” of young people in the Middle East and South Asia should be won back as the particular regions had become the “ground zero.”

Obama insisted on a “surgical, precise response” to a very specific problem. He said that terrorist organizations would be defeated as they did not have a vision which ordinary people found appealing.