By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
WASHINGTON, DC – President Obama said that a plan by a small Florida church to burn copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, on September 11 is contrary to American values of religious freedom and tolerance of all faiths and religions.
During an interview September 9, Obama said the “stunt” being planned on the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States could endanger the lives of U.S. soldiers and Marines serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, and endanger Americans everywhere. He said that news of the planned desecration of the Muslim holy book has already caused demonstrations against the United States in some parts of the world.
The president said that what the church’s pastor is “proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans, that this country has been built on the notions of religious freedom and religious tolerance.”
“And as a very practical matter, as commander in chief of the armed forces of the United States, I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan. We’re already seeing protests against Americans just by the mere threat that he’s making.”
The pastor of the Florida church, which has a congregation of about 50 people, has proposed burning copies of the Quran to mark the September 11 anniversary. Obama joined with other senior U.S. officials and dozens of prominent religious leaders of multiple faiths in condemning this act of religious intolerance.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said September 8 that this planned act “doesn’t in any way represent America or Americans or American government or American religious or political leadership.”
Obama expressed concerns that this single act could give further aid to the spread of terrorism.
“This is a recruitment bonanza for al-Qaida,” the president said on ABC’s Good Morning America program. “You know, you could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who would be willing to blow themselves up in American cities or European cities.”