Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCommunion vote puts spotlight on Hispanic Catholics Trump's biggest political obstacle is Trump The Memo: Some Democrats worry rising crime will cost them MORE on Monday called the alleged shooter of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords an "extremist" and urged an Abu Dhabi audience not to let the incident define the United States.

Responding to a student in the United Arab Emirates, who asked her at a town-hall meeting about American animosity toward the Arab world for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Clinton said people should work to marginalize "extremists" in all societies.

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"We have extremists in my country. A wonderful, incredibly brave young woman Congress member, Congresswoman Giffords, was just shot by an extremist in our country," she said, according to Reuters. "We have the same kinds of problems. So rather than standing off from each other, we should work to try to prevent the extremists anywhere from being able to commit violence."

Clinton's comments come amid a simmering debate over whether combative political rhetoric in the U.S. played a role in Giffords's shooting. 

FBI Director Robert Mueller, who is in Arizona to help coordinate the investigation, has said it is "early to speculate" on the shooter's motives.

According to a federal criminal complaint against the alleged shooter, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, an envelope was found in a safe owned by the suspect that was covered with the words, "I planned ahead," "My assassination," and "Giffords." What appeared to be Loughner's signature was also recovered.

Clinton said extremists do not represent the U.S. or Arab nations.

"The extremists and their voices, the crazy voices that sometimes get on the TV, that's not who we are, that's not who you are, and what we have to do is get through that and make it clear that that doesn't represent either American or Arab ideas or opinions," she said.