Clinton: 'Islam itself is not our adversary'

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Democratic primary front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonWould Trump call Christie 'Mr. Piggy' or 'Mr. Housekeeping'? Michelle Obama’s moving woes Yellen defends Fed from Trump attacks MORE says the escalating conflict with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a battle between “hate and hope,” not against the Muslim religion.

“I think it’s important to remind ourselves that Islam itself is not our adversary,” Clinton said at the Brookings Institute’s Saban Forum in Washington, D.C., on Sunday. “This is not, and we should not let it become, a clash of civilizations."

"It is a clash between hate and hope, and the vast majority of Muslims are on our side of the battle unless we drive them away," she added.

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The former secretary of State said branding Muslims as terrorists serves as a potent recruiting tool for those who use the faith to justify violence.

“Declaring war on Islam or demonizing the Muslim-American community is not only counter to our values, it plays right into the hands of terrorists,” she said.

She called on Americans to stop “scapegoating” peaceable Muslims, but also acknowledged that the Islamic faith does play a role in international terrorism.

“We should be supporting them, not scapegoating them,” she said. “But, at the same time, none of us can close our eyes to the fact that we do face enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering innocent people,” she said. “We have to stop them, and we will.”

Clinton called on Americans to show “resolve” in the wake of the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., on Wednesday. She praised first responders to the attack that left 14 dead and 21 injured.

“Resolve means also supporting our first responders, like the officer who said he would take a bullet for the civilians he was rescuing," she said.

The former first lady called on Congress to enact legislation to ensure suspected terrorists cannot purchase firearms.

“Congress must act to make sure no one who is a suspected terrorist can buy guns anywhere in America,” she said.

Clinton made a gaffe when she said the “nuclear option” was still on the table against Iran. The crowd buzzed at the suggestion, but she corrected herself, saying she meant the “military option.”