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The site of the World Trade Centre last night, as construction continued on the new One World Trade Centre.
The site of the World Trade Centre last night, as construction continued on the new One World Trade Centre.
Image: Mark Lennihan/AP

Obama appeals for calm on anniversary of 9/11 attacks

The president seeks to ease tensions between Christians and Muslims as New York marks the ninth anniversary of the attacks.
Sep 11th 2010, 11:37 AM 421 0

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA last night called for Americans to seek more tolerance and better relationships with Muslims at home and abroad as the Quran-burning scandal threatened to ignite sectarian tensions on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The plans of Rev Terry Jones to burn 200 copies of Islam’s holy book have ignited protests and effigy-burnings in Afghanistan, while the proposals to include a mosque in a community centre two blocks from the site of the World Trade Centre have also sparked protests.

While Jones has suspended his plans for the second time, having instead opted to fly to New York to campaign for the mosque to be relocated, though a copycat pastor in Tennessee has now pledged to perform a similar burning.

Yesterday a man was shot dead in Afghanistan when troops opened fire outside a NATO base in the city of Badakhshan, as a crowd of 10,000 left mosques where they had celebrated the end of Ramadan and protested at Jones’s plans.

Afghan president Hamid Karzai said that while he hoped the burning would not go ahead, “burning the Quran [...] cannot harm it. The Quran is in the hearts and minds of 1.5 billion people. Humiliation of the holy book represents the humiliation of people.”

Even the Vatican has stepped into the debate, saying that “each religion, with its respective sacred books, places of worship and symbols, has the right to respect and protection.”


Back in the United States, Obama said it was imperative for people in the United States to discern between those who peacefully followed Islam and the country’s real enemies – and took the chance to remind the public that he was not one of them. He said:

We have to make sure that we don’t start turning on each other – and I will do everything that I can, as long as I am president of the United States, to remind the American people that we are one nation, under God.

And we may call that God different names, but we remain one nation. And, you know, as somebody who, you know, relies heavily on my Christian faith in my job, I understand, you know, the passions that religious faith can raise.

The president also took the chance to reiterate his support for the Park Place mosque project.

This country stands for the proposition that all men and women are created equal, that they have certain inalienable rights. And what that means is that if you could build a church on a site, you could build a synagogue on a site, if you could build a Hindu temple on a site, then you should be able to build a mosque on the site.

Obama is to observe the anniversary at the Pentagon, while his wife Michelle will join former first lady Laura Bush at the Pennsylvania location where the fourth plane was downed nine years ago.

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Gavan Reilly

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