Fact Check

Prophet and Loss Statement

Rumor: President Obama said the 'future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam' during a speech in 2012.

Published Jan. 6, 2015

President Obama said during a 2012 speech the "future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam."

Shortly after a group of masked gunmen opened fire at the satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine's headquarters in Paris on 7 January 2015 (reportedly because the magazine had published a non-satirical look at the life of the prophet Muhammad in cartoon form), publications such as Truth Revolt republished a quote from a speech given by President Obama back in 2012:

The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.

The quote comes from a speech that President Obama delivered to the United Nations General Assembly on 25 September 2012 about the death of U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three others in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Truth Revolt presented the quote in a way that attempted to demonstrate President Obama's disregard for free speech:

After the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans at the Benghazi, Libya consulate on September 11, 2012, President Obama and the rest of the Obama administration blamed a YouTube filmmaker for a video called "The Innocence of Muslims." At the United Nations on September 25, 2012, Obama spoke out, not in defense of free speech, but in offense at the YouTube video.

During President Obama's address to the UN General Assembly in September 2012, he listed groups, ideas, and people whom "the future does not belong to." Among those listed were people who bully women, those who target coptic Christians in Egypt, dictators who massacre their country's citizens, and those who turn their backs on peace. The President's full speech can be read at WhiteHouse.gov, and the relevant section is reproduced below:

It is time to leave the call of violence and the politics of division behind. On so many issues, we face a choice between the promise of the future, or the prisons of the past. And we cannot afford to get it wrong. We must seize this moment. And America stands ready to work with all who are willing to embrace a better future.

The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians in Egypt — it must be claimed by those in Tahrir Square who chanted, "Muslims, Christians, we are one." The future must not belong to those who bully women — it must be shaped by girls who go to school, and those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like our sons.

The future must not belong to those corrupt few who steal a country's resources — it must be won by the students and entrepreneurs, the workers and business owners who seek a broader prosperity for all people. Those are the women and men that America stands with; theirs is the vision we will support.

The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied.

Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims and Shiite pilgrims. It's time to heed the words of Gandhi: "Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit." Together, we must work towards a world where we are strengthened by our differences, and not defined by them. That is what America embodies, that's the vision we will support.

Of course, we don't have to read a 2012 speech to understand Obama's perspective on the Charlie Hebdo attack. The President released a statement on 7 January 2015 saying Paris will endure "beyond the hateful vision" of those responsible:

France is America's oldest ally, and has stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States in the fight against terrorists who threaten our shared security and the world. Time and again, the French people have stood up for the universal values that generations of our people have defended. France, and the great city of Paris where this outrageous attack took place, offer the world a timeless example that will endure well beyond the hateful vision of these killers. We are in touch with French officials and I have directed my Administration to provide any assistance needed to help bring these terrorists to justice."

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.