ABC News' Elizabeth Gorman reports:
Prompted by President Obama's speech directed to the Muslim world in Cairo in early June, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today launched its "Share the Quran" campaign distributing free Qurans to local, state, and national leaders across the United States.
The organization's spokesperson said it will also send a copy to Obama and Vice President Biden.
"This is pure educational. I want to make it clear that this is not proselytizing or a campaign or project to convert people to Islam," said CAIR's director Nihad Awad today at a press conference. "We want people to be aware and informed about Islam."
Awad said the idea to gift high-end Qurans ($78 each) to American legislators, law enforcement officers, media leaders, governors, local elected and public officials, was directly inspired by Obama's Cairo speech:
"We were astonished he quoted the Quran." Awad told ABC News. "We know it. But I think the majority of Americans have no idea that maybe these quotes are direct from the Quran, they're unequivocal, and they cover the issues of . . . values we need today, in order to work together, fight extremism and terrorism, and turn the page. And bring the relationship to its rightful position between the American and Muslim world."
The organization chose Muhammad Asad's (a European) English translation of the Quran, and asks Muslims to donate $48 to help subsidize its multi-million dollar project as part of a grassroots campaign.
"The long-term goal of the campaign is to put one million Qurans in the hands of ordinary Americans of all faiths over the next 10 years," according to a CAIR statement.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen was asked about the report the same day the video aired on Al Jazeera:
"My reaction is twofold," he said. "One is that I'm not aware of the details of this and certainly want to know more about it. Secondly, it certainly is — from the United States military's perspective — not our position to ever push any specific kind of religion. Period."