With 9/11 Anniversary Approaching, Religious Tolerance on the President’s Mind

By Josh

Sep 10, 2010 5:16pm

From Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller   Standing behind the podium in front of press today, President Obama seemed more passionate on the subjects of the proposed Lower Manhattan Islamic Center, Pastor Terry Jones’ plans for Koran burning, and Muslim Americans in general.   White House sources say the subjects have been on the president’s mind quite a bit these last few days as he prepares for the 9/11 commemoration ceremony and as he reads intelligence reports about the impact the planned Koran burning has had on the Muslim world.   The president noted that at this time of year, around the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, a lot of Americans are anxious, which may be one reason that many of these issues are coming up, and gaining traction.   “At a time when the country is anxious generally and going through a tough time, then, you know, fears can surface — suspicions, divisions can surface in a society. And so I think that plays a role in it,” Obama said form the East Room of the White House.   In themes likely to appear in his speech at the Pentagon memorial on Saturday’s anniversary marking the 9th year since the 9/11 attacks, Obama called on the nation to remember that the nation is not at war with Islam.   “I've got Muslims who are fighting in Afghanistan in the uniform of the United States armed services.  They're out there putting their lives on the line for us, and we've got to make sure that we are crystal clear, for our sakes and their sakes, they are Americans, and we honor their service. And part of honoring their service is making sure that they understand that we don't differentiate between them and us. It's just us.”   Mr. Obama said one of the things he most admired about President Bush was, after 9/11, the former being clear about the fact that we were not at war with Islam. Similarly, the president said it is still important now for the American people to hang on to religious tolerance and to be clear about who the nation’s enemies are, and that tomorrow would be a “wonderful” time for the nation to remember this.   “Our enemies are Al Qaida and their allies who are trying to kill us, but have been — have killed more Muslims than just about anybody on Earth. You know, we have to make sure that we don't start turning on each other.”   The president said he will do everything he can as president to remind Americans, “that we are one nation, under God.  And we may call that God different names, but we remain one nation.”   The concept of religious tolerance  was brought up multiple times at today’s press conference by the president, when discussing the possible Koran burning in Florida, since called off, and the proposed Islamic center two blocks from Ground Zero.   -Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller

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