Obama: Americans Must "Reject Discrimination" After San Bernardino "Terrorism"

The president used a rare prime-time address from the Oval Office to tell Americans "we cannot turn against one another."

President Obama used part of his rare prime-time address from the Oval Office on Sunday night to urge Americans to "reject discrimination" in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings, where at least one perpetrator pledged allegiance to ISIS before killing 14 people.

"Just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization, it is the responsibility of all Americans, of every faith, to reject discrimination," Obama said.

The president's comments come amid signs of backlash against Muslims after the recent attacks in Paris, which ISIS took responsibility for.

Obama on Sunday called the California attack "an act of terrorism." One of the shooters, Tashfeen Malik, 29, posted a message to Facebook pledging allegiance to ISIS around the time she and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, began the attack on a county employee holiday party.

"Here's what else we cannot do. We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what groups like ISIL want," Obama said, using an alternate acronym for ISIS.

"ISIL does not speak for Islam. They are thugs and killers, part of a cult of death. And they account for a tiny fraction of a more than a billion Muslims around the world, including millions of patriotic Muslim-Americans who reject their hateful ideology."

Obama went on to point out that "the vast majority of terrorist victims around the world are Muslim."

Obama said Americans have to enlist Muslim communities "as some of our strongest allies, rather than push them away through suspicion and hate." He added that Muslim leaders have to help "decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al-Qaeda promote."

"It is the responsibility of all Americans, of every faith, to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country."

"It's our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim-Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose. That kind of divisiveness, that betrayal of our values plays into the hands of groups like ISIL."

"Muslim-Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co- workers, our sports heroes. And, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country. We have to remember that."

He ended with a nod toward the current presidential election.

"We were founded upon a belief in human dignity that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God and equal in the eyes of the law. Even in this political season, even as we properly debate what steps I and future presidents must take to keep our country safe."