Washington, D.C. — A day before the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, President Obama is weighing in on the Ground Zero mosque. “I recognize the extraordinary sensitivities around 9/11,” he says. “But . . . we are not at war against Islam.” Muslims, Obama asserts, “have rejected this violent ideology, for the most part,” and there is only a “tiny minority” engaged in “horrific” acts.
“This country stands for the proposition that all men and women are created equal, that they have certain inalienable rights, and one of those rights is to practice their religion freely,” Obama says at his White House press conference. “We have got to make sure that we are crystal clear that we don’t differentiate between [Muslims] and us. It’s just us. And that is a principle that is very important for us to sustain.”
Turning to the Koran-burning controversy, Obama says that “fears” and “suspicions” can surface in a society that is struggling economically. “Burning sacred texts,” he says, “is contrary to everything this country stands for.”
Obama praises President Bush for how he handled the Islam question after 9/11, and for saying that “we are not at war with Islam” but with those who “pervert” its teachings. The country, Obama says, needs to “make sure that we don’t start turning on one another.” He adds that his Christian faith has “heavily” guided him in dealing with religious issues as president.