Quran burning would be a recruitment bonanza for Al Qaeda: Obama (Lead)

September 9th, 2010 - 7:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, Sep 9 (IANS) A Florida pastor’s plan to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11 would be “a recruitment bonanza for Al Qaeda”, President Barack Obama said Thursday.

It could also result in “serious violence” against American troops in Pakistan and Afghanistan, he said in an interview aired on ABC’s “Good Morning America” programme.

“If he’s listening, I just hope he understands that what he’s proposing to do is completely contrary to our values and this country has been built on the notions of religious freedom and religious tolerance,” Obama said.

“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 pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan.”

Pastor Terry Jones’ actions could boost recruitment of people who would be willing to “blow themselves up” in cities in America or Europe, Obama said adding he hoped Jones understood that he would be engaging in “a destructive act”.

“He says he’s someone who is motivated by his faith,” Obama said. “I hope he listens to those better angels,” the president said.

Obama’s comments are the latest in the growing call from numerous politicians and community and interfaith leaders who’ve all spoken out in recent days, urging Jones to forgo his controversial plan and its potentially harmful consequences.

Jones’ plan to burn copies of the Quran at his Dove World Outreach Center, a small, non-denominational congregation in Gainesville, has unleashed a flood of opposition.

Protests have been mounted in Afghanistan and in Indonesia, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned that Islamic extremists likely would retaliate.

While the pastor has said he is continuing to pray about the plan, he has shown no indication that he will back down. He also has said he would not be responsible for any deaths that may occur as a result of his church’s provocative actions.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in

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