Washington: As he led Americans in
remembering the victims of the 9/11 attacks, President Barack
Obama on Saturday pledged that the US will "never be at war" with
Islam as it was dreaded terror group al Qaeda which attacked
the country, not a religion.
Addressing fellow citizens on the heels of a Florida
pastor threatening to burn copies of Quran and the controversy
surrounding plans to build a mosque near the Ground Zero,
Obama said the terrorist elements may seek to spark conflict
between different faiths. The pastor has since abandoned the
"...but as Americans we are not -- and never will be
-- at war with Islam. It was not a religion that attacked us
that September day -- it was al Qaeda, a sorry band of men
which perverts religion," Obama said in his address from
Pentagon, one of the sites of the attacks.
He also vowed to keep the nation safe come what may
and remembered the victims of the terrorist attacks in New
York, Pentagon and Pennsylvania that killed more than 3,000
"For our nation, this is a day of remembrance, a day
of reflection, and -- with God`s grace -- a day of unity and
renewal," Obama said as he paid a visit to hallowed ground at
the Pentagon and laid a wreath.
The main function was held at the Ground Zero site in
New York City, attended by the Vice President Joe Biden.
First Lady, Mitchell Obama and her predecessor Laura
Bush, attended a remembrance ceremony in Pennsylvania.
Obama said: "Today, in Afghanistan and beyond, we have
gone on the offensive and struck major blows against al Qaeda
and its allies. We will do what is necessary to protect our
country, and we honor all those who serve to keep us safe."
"They may seek to strike fear in us, but they are no
match for our resilience. We do not succumb to fear, nor will
we squander the optimism that has always defined us as a
people," the US President said.
"The perpetrators of this evil act didn`t simply
attack America; they attacked the very idea of America itself
-- all that we stand for and represent in the world," Obama
said in his remarks.
"They (terrorists) may seek to exploit our freedoms,
but we will not sacrifice the liberties we cherish or hunker
down behind walls of suspicion and mistrust.
"They may wish to drive us apart, but we will not give
in to their hatred and prejudice," Obama said.
He said as America condemns intolerance and extremism
abroad, its citizens should stay true to its traditions here
at home as a diverse and tolerant nation.
"We champion the rights of every American, including
the right to worship as one chooses -- as service members and
civilians from many faiths do just steps from here, at the
very spot where the terrorists struck this building," he said.
In New York, Vice President Joe Biden read a poem by
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. "Build today, then strong and
sure, with a firm and ample base; and ascending and secure.
Shall tomorrow find its place."
Joining all Americans in honouring those who lost
their lives on that terrible day, the Secretary of State,
Hillary Clinton, said in a statement: "My thoughts and prayers
are with their friends and families, with those people who
continue to suffer lasting health effects, and with the
courageous men and women who are fighting in Afghanistan and
elsewhere to defeat those responsible for the attacks."
Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, said: "Those
who attacked us in New York City, Washington DC and
Pennsylvania that day thought they could strike permanent fear
in the heart of our nation. They were wrong. We will defeat
them and will continue to defend our freedom, our values, and
"This day, and every day, we recommit to our first
responsibility as elected officials: to protect the American
people. And we rededicate ourselves to the values that make
our country great: freedom, equality, and opportunity," said
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives.
Former President George W Bush said on September 11,
2001, Americans awoke to evil on our shores.
"On this solemn day of remembrance, Laura and I hold
the victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers,"
"We recall the many acts of heroism on that day, and
we honor those who work tirelessly to prevent another attack,"