Hillary Clinton defends Islam, says it's a religion of peace and that Muslims have nothing to do with terrorism

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton delivers remarks at the Brady Center's annual Brady Bear Awards Gala in the Manhattan borough in New York, on Nov. 19, 2015.Reuters

Leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is not about to blame Muslims for terrorism, even after the Islamic State (ISIS) extremist group claimed responsibility for the terror attacks in Paris, which killed over 120 people.

Speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Thursday, Clinton sought to insulate the entire Muslim population from the notorious jihadist organisation.

The former secretary of state also defended Islam, saying it is a religion advocating peace and not violence.

"Let's be clear: Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism," Clinton said, as quoted by WND.com.

She also repeatedly used the term "radical jihadism" in her prepared comments, and warned against establishing a connection between worldwide Islamic terror networks and Islam, saying this should not be done.

Clinton further said that associating Islam with terrorism only "gives these criminals, these murderers, more standing than they deserve, and it actually plays into their hands by alienating partners we need by our side."

At the same time, the Democratic presidential frontrunner also called for a wide-ranging assault to crush the ISIS once and for all.

"Our goal is not to deter or contain ISIS, but to defeat and destroy ISIS. It is time to begin a new phase ... to smash the would-be caliphate," she said, as quoted by Bloomberg News.

To be able to do this, Clinton proposed an expanded air war and an "intelligence surge," among other efforts against the ISIS.

"To be successful, airstrikes will have to be combined with ground forces actually taking back more territory from ISIS," the former state secretary said.

Clinton's stand about the ISIS and Islam is in stark contrast with Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's, who has taken a tougher stance against the Muslim community.

Trump once said that he would consider closing down mosques linked to terrorism.