Obama ready for battle with Republicans but wants no war with Islam

September 10, 2010

President Barack Obama may be ready for battle with Republicans over the economy, but he made clear Friday there was one conflict he didn’t want — a war with Islam.

Obama told a White House news conference Republicans were “holding middle class tax relief hostage” while insisting on tax breaks for the rich that would cost $700 billion over 10 years.

OBAMA/“The policies that the Republicans are offering right now are the exact policies that got us into this mess,” the president said.

After going a few rounds on the economy, though, reporters wanted to know about the other fights that have been dominating the news — a Florida preacher’s threat to burn Korans and a New York imam’s plan for an Islamic center near Ground Zero.

“The idea that we would burn the sacred texts of someone else’s religion is contrary to what this country stands for. My hope is that this individual prays on it and refrains from doing it,” Obama said, referring to Florida pastor Terry Jones’ threat to burn copies of the Koran on the ninth anniversary of Sept. 11.

“I’m also commander in chief. And we are seeing today riots in Kabul, riots in Afghanistan, that threaten our young men and women in uniform,” he added.

“This kind of behavior or threats of action put our young men and women in harm’s way.”

OBAMA“This is a way of endangering our troops, our sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, who are sacrificing for us to keep us safe,” he said. “And you don’t play games with that.”

Obama said he’d been clear about his views on a plan to build an Islamic center and mosque a couple of blocks away from the site of the Sept. 11 attacks in Manhattan.

“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 a site,” Obama said.

He said he recognized the sensitivities surrounding the Sept. 11 anniversary and the concerns of the families of the victims.

“But I go back to what I said earlier. We are not at war against Islam,” he said. “We’re at war against terrorist organizations that have distorted Islam or falsely used the banner of Islam to engage in their destructive acts.”

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Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Obama gestures at the news conference; Obama leaves stage after East Room news conference)

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