September 10th, 2010
01:06 PM ET

Obama: 'We are not at war against Islam'

[Updated at 12:25 p.m.] President Obama was asked about his thoughts on the Islamic center being built near ground zero in New York.

"All men and women are created equal, they have certain inalienable rights, and one of those is to practice their religion freely," Obama said. "You can build a church on a site, you can build a synagogue on a site, if you could build a Hindu temple on a site, you should be able to build a mosque."

Obama said he recognized the sensitivity in the area because of the 9/11 attacks and acknowledges that family members are continuing to experience pain and anguish over their losses.

However, he urged people to remember who our real enemies are.

"We are not at war against Islam. We are at war against terrorist organizations that have distorted Islam or falsely used the banner of Islam," Obama said. "If we're going to deal with the problems Ed Henry was talking about - reducing the terrorist threat - we need all the allies we can get."

Obama pressed that in fact, the anti-Islam sentiment and a war between the West and Islam is exactly what terrorist organizations are hoping for.

"Al Qaeda,  that's what they've been banking on," Obama said. "The overwhelming majority of Muslims are peace-loving - are interested in the same things that you and I are interested in."

Obama stressed it is important that Americans do not believe the entire religion of Islam is offensive.

iReport: Share your thoughts on controversy surrounding Islamic Center

For more on Obama's question-and-answer session and analysis check out CNN's Political Ticker.

CNN analysts weigh in

[Updated at 12:17 p.m.] CNN's Ed Henry asked President Barack Obama whether he still agrees with his statement that it is crititical to capture Osama bin Laden and if he views it a failure that he hasn't been captured, despite Obama's promise to run a smarter war on terrorism than President Bush.

"I think capturing or killing bin Laden ... would be extremely important to national security," he said. "It doesn't solve all of our problems, but it is a high priority for our administration."

Obama touted success in forcing members of al Qaeda to retreat because of ramped up pressure on its leaders.

"They have been holed up in ways that have made it harder for them to operate - and part of what's happening is bin Laden has gone deeper underground," Obama said. "We have the best minds, the best intelligence officers, the best special forces who are thinking about this day and night, and they will continue to think about it day and night as long as I'm president."

[Updated at 12:07 p.m.] Obama said that although he has missed the deadline to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, "it is not for lack of trying."

"It's because of politics," he said.

He insisted that he believes the U.S. justice system is capable of handling procedures involving terrorist suspects and that military tribunals are not necessary.

"I am absolutely convinced that the American justice system is strong enough, that we should be able to convict people who murdered innocent Americans and that carried out terrorist attacks against us," he said. "We should be able to lock them up and make sure they don't see the light of day. We can do that, and we've done it before."

[Updated at 12:00 p.m.] Obama acknowledged that the looming expiration of Israel's moratorium on settlement construction is a "major bone of contention."

The internal politic pressures for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on this issue "are very difficult," Obama said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Netanyahu have to figure out "how to help each other succeed," he added.

[Updated at 11:58 a.m.] Obama was asked about levels of corruption within the Afghanistan government and what is being done to curtail it.

"We are in the midst of a very difficult but very important project. I just want to remind people why we're there, the day before September 11. We're there because that was the place where al Qaeda launched an attack that killed 3,000 Americans. And we want to make sure we dismantle al Qaeda and that Afghanistan is never again used as a base for attacks against Americans and the American homeland."

Obama asked people to remember that Afghanistan is the second poorest country in the world and that change won't happen overnight, but his administration is working with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Obama criticized former President George W. Bush's administration for failing to provide adequate training of Afghan military forces.

"After seven years of policies in which we weren't even effectively training security forces, we're saying we're going to work with the Afghan government so they can be responsible for their own security. We're going to promote a political settlement in the region that can help to reduce the violence. We're going to encourage an Afghan government that can deliver services for its people."

He insisted that progress has been made in terms of rooting out corruption from the government in Kabul, but "we're a long way from where we need to be on that," he said.

The White House will continue to pressure Karzai on the issue of corruption, Obama said.

[Updated at 11:52 a.m.] Obama said that a proposed settlement for black farmers - who have historically been the target of racial discrimination by the federal government - is "fair" and "just."

The White House will continue to make funding of the settlement - now blocked in the Senate - "a priority," he said.

[Updated at 11:51 a.m.] Obama insisted Friday that skyrocketing medical costs will ultimately decline as more people are covered due to his administration's health care reform initiative.

[Updated at 11:44 a.m.] Obama was asked about Pastor Terry Jones in Florida, who had plans to burn Qurans on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, and whether he was concerned that by having the secretary of defense call him, it was actually elevating his platform.

"The idea that we would burn the sacred texts of someone else's religion is contrary to what this country stands for. It's contrary to what this nation was founded on. My hope is that this individual prays on it and refrains from doing it," Obama said. "But 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, and so we have an obligation to send a very clear message that this kind of behavior or threats of action put our men and women in danger."

Obama said he doesn't think his administration is what elevated this story, but "in the age of the internet, this is something that can cause us profound damage."

"It's also the best imaginable recruiting tool for al Qaeda," he said. "We don't start having a bunch of folks all across the country think this is how to get attention. This is a way of endangering our troops. You don't play games with that."

[Updated at 11:40 a.m.] Obama conceded Friday that there are "enormous hurdles" to the new Middle East peace talks. His administration understood that "it was a risk for us to promote these discussions, but it is a risk worth taking," he
said.

It is in the interests of America, the Israelis and the Palestinians to reach a comprehensive settlement, Obama said. The issue of Middle East peace must be dealt with if, among other things, Israel is to remain both Jewish and Democratic, Obama said.  A settlement would also help the United States deal with Iran.

"If these talks break down, we're going to keep on trying," he said.

[Updated at 11:34 a.m.] Obama was asked about why he believes that nine years after the attacks on September 11, 2001, there is now a growing suspicion and resentment of Islam.

"I think that at a time when the country is anxious generally, and gone through a tough time, then you know fears can surface, suspicions, divisions can surface in a society, and so I think that plays a role," Obama said.

Obama then praised former President George W. Bush for his specific rhetoric on religion following the attacks.

"One of the things I most admired about President Bush was after 9/11, him being crystal clear about the fact that we were not at war with Islam, we were at war with terrorists and murderers who had perverted Islam ... to carry out their acts."

Obama said he was proud the country had rallied around the idea that we can't be divided because of religion or ethnicity - and hopes that is something that can continue.

"We are all Americans, we stand together," Obama said. "I think it is absolutely important now for majority of Americans to hang onto that thing that is best in us: a belief in religious tolerance. We have to make sure we don't start turning on each other."

"We are one nation under God. We may call that God different names, but we are one nation."

[Updated at 11:32 a.m.] Obama said Friday that one of the reasons he hasn't created a greater spirit of cooperation in Washington is because some GOP leaders decided when he took office that "we're going to sit on the sidelines and let the Democrats solve" the economic crisis.

Taking on tough issues with entrenched special interests creates "a lot of big fights," he said.

[Updated at 11:25 a.m.] Obama deflected a question Friday about whether his new economic plans should be referred to as another "stimulus" package. "Everything we've been trying to do is designed to stimulate growth," he said.  "I have no problem with people saying the president is trying" to do that.

He was then asked about several pending Senate nominations - including judges and Homeland Security officials.

"I'm concerned about all Senate nominations these days," he said, noting he wasn't making a joke. "I've got people who have been waiting for six months to get confirmed that nobody has an official objection to ... and I can't get a vote on them."

Obama said it was frustrating when "you've got a determined minority" that is attempting to filibuster all of his nominations.

"They're just playing games," he said.

[Updated at 11:20 a.m.] President Obama was asked about why he waited so long to introduce his latest economic policies and if they are merely being used as a political weapon for the election season.

"We have this notion that we waited until now, but just on the small business issue alone, we have cut taxes for small businesses eight times," Obama said. "So we are hardly Johnny-come-latelys on this issue."

Obama touted a variety of  policy successes as the reason the economy is better than it was when he took office.

"When you put all the things we did together, it made a difference," he said.

[Updated at 11:19 a.m.] Obama said there is room for discussion on competing tax plans.

"If the Republican leadership is prepared to get serious ... I would love to talk to them," he told reporters at the White House.

Obama insisted, however, that GOP plans to extend the Bush tax cuts for individuals earning over $250,000 are a bad idea.

[Updated at 11:13 a.m.] A reporter asked Obama about his assertion that Democrats wouldn't do well in the midterm elections in November if it would be a referendum on the economy.

"For 19 months we have steadily worked to avoid a depression, to take an economy that was contracting and making it grow again," Obama said. "But we're not there yet."

Obama acknowledged Americans' anger about the slow progress.

"And because I'm the president and the Democrats have controlled the House and the Senate, it's understandable that people are saying 'what have you done?' "

However, Obama said, the Republicans don't offer a better solution - in fact, their policies are worse.

"The Republicans' offers are exactly the ones that got us into this trouble," he said. "If you want the same kind of skewed policies that led us to these problems, the Republicans are ready to do that."

[Updated at 11:11 a.m.] Obama announced that Austan Goolsbee will be named chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Goolsbee will replace Christina Romer, who stepped down this month as chair of the council, a panel of three White House officials who offer the president economic advice and help formulate policy.

[Updated at 11:08 a.m.] Obama on Friday once again urged the Senate to pass his small business jobs bill, arguing that it has been blocked by "a partisan (Republican) minority."

Obama praised Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, for announcing that he would not help GOP leaders block the bill.

[Updated at 11:02 a.m.] Obama said the goal of his latest proposals is to help jump-start an economy still dealing with the impact of the recession.

"Even though the economy is growing again ... the hole the recession left has been huge," Obama said.

"Millions of Americans are still looking for work."

He touted his administration's investments in infrastructure as a chance to remain competitive with other countries that are working on similar projects including high-speed rail.

[Posted at 10:50 a.m.] President Obama will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. Friday, his first full-scale question-and-answer session at the White House in nearly four months and his seventh full-scale news conference at the White House since he took office.

The last presser was back in May when the president answered questions mainly about the oil spill. This one is expected to focus on the economy.

soundoff (818 Responses)
  1. The messiah

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQOCcx5V9RI&fs=1&hl=en_US]

    September 10, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • JS

      Geert can say whatever he wants and he is free to quote verses of Quran out of context . But it is also the right of every individual to verify what he is saying . Islam is a religion of peace and compassion and most importantly religion of reason .

      And if you punish (your oppressors), then punish them with the like of that which you were afflicted. But if you endure patiently, verily, it is better for the patient ones. (The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 16, Verse 126)
      Fighting is only allowed in self defence according to the Quran
      If someone is going to cherry pick incidents to prove a point .. then why stop with Muslims .. Lets use the same yarstick to judge other people

      Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder
      Article by Jeremy Scahill

      A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company's owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."

      And fight in Allah’s cause those who fight you, but do not transgress the limits (set by Allah), Truly, Allah loves not the transgressors. (The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 2, Verse 190)

      Even during open war, the Believers are ordered with compassion and to continue the greater jihad of calling to the Truth:

      And if any of the pagan (enemy) seeks your protection then grant it – in order that he may hear the Word of Allah – and escort him to where he can be secure. That is because they are men who know not. (The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 9, Verse 6)

      As for non-combatants or civilians, we read:

      Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion, nor drove you out of your homes. Verily Allah loves those who deal with equity. (The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 60, Verse 8)

      September 11, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. The messiah

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MV66c2wzIU4&fs=1&hl=en_US]

    September 10, 2010 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. The messiah

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjS0Novt3X4&fs=1&hl=en_US]

    September 10, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. The messiah

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cv-tfy2i3LM&fs=1&hl=en_US]

    September 10, 2010 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. The messiah

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORXaG1_6wD4&fs=1&hl=en_US]

    September 10, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. The messiah

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reX7vGb-ToA&fs=1&hl=en_US]

    September 10, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. The messiah

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnEeTBuPQuo&fs=1&hl=en_US]

    September 10, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. The messiah

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnRWcSWnrH4&fs=1&hl=en_US]

    September 10, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. The messiah

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGUlwg9Xy84&fs=1&hl=en_US]

    September 10, 2010 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • JS

      Have you heard of the pregnant Muslim woman who was stabbed 18 times in broad daylight in a German court for wearing hijab ?

      The guardian reports :
      It was while Marwa el-Sherbini was in the dock recalling how the accused had insulted her for wearing the hijab after she asked him to let her son sit on a swing last summer, that the very same man strode across the Dresden courtroom and plunged a knife into her 18 times.
      Obviously it did not get the same media coverage because the victim was a Muslim and in todays world it is pretty ok to stab Muslims ..because all of them are "terrorists" .. Hope you know that you too can make a youtube vidoe and show whatever you want to show ..

      September 11, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mike Speakman

    Obama is a fool who ignores history. The free world has been at war with Islam since it was formed.

    September 10, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Wallace

    If you were against them, then you'd be against BARRY SOETORO HUSSEIN OBAMA; and we all know he wouldn't want that! He might cry like a little puppy... Oh yeah, Sorry for treating you like a little dog. With the way you pronounce your S's I'd say you're more of a SNAKE... Remember the Garden of Eden everyone!! BEWARE!!

    September 10, 2010 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ocr747

    It doesn't what Obama do or don't because some people will never be happy. The only thing that will make them happy is if he would do like Palin quit being president. But they can forget that is never going to happen. It is easy to keep finding fault in him when you don't have any solution to any of the problems that we are facing.

    We have the nerve to get mad because of the center being built, but why, we have had so called christians kill innocent people by blowing them up or shooting a lot of them. We have those who have bombed churches and kill innocent children all because they hate the color of their skin. But we think that is okay because it happen by american, but it is not, it happen by cowards who could not let go of the past and live in the future.

    The same thing is happening now, we have some in the white race who cannot let go of thepast and realize that changes are here, no longer is the white the majority but is with the minority. They hate it because a black person did something in their book that is not allowed, and that is running for president and winning.

    They have done everything from day 1 to make him fail but he just keep getting stronger and stronger. We have republicians who have help fuel the racism for their own pleasure. If the republicians have their way, there would be no health care reform and we just keep on letting the insurance company eat us up in premiums and take away service to people because they had the nerve to get sick. What do they care if you get denied insurance because you or your family member had the nerve to have a preexisting condition(having the sore throat is now considered a preexisting condition). But some of you probably don't care because you don't get sick, you don't have family member with a preexisting condition and you will never get sick. It is find that we the working people who have insurance on our job pay the medical bill of ourco worker who work right beside me and make as much or more and refused to get the insurance. Of course when he get sick or his family member they can just stick us with the bill or file bankutcy and we still pay the bill.

    But we want to get rid of ss, medicare medicaid and just forget about the people who are own, they can curl up and die. what do we care, as long as the white power is still in force. It's okay to call people out of their names and then when our children do it we claim we don't know where they got it from.

    We have politician who have lit a fire and fuel it everyday with hatred comments, do they care that those comments may someday turn to getting innocent people hurt like back in the 60's. Then they will put the blame on the american people and swear that they did not mean for anything to happen.. Those who have hatred in their heart want to take back their country, the country have not went any where, it just that changes are being made to make this a better place to live.

    It is the fear and the thought that now we have a black person in the white house that he is over us, he do not see it that way and what ever he do is for all the people. You know all those bills that has been passed, you get to enjoyed the benefits like every body else. I haven't heard not one teaparty turning down their social security or their medicare, and paying for their medical care out of their pocket, I wonder why. I don't hear you one republician suggesting or giving up their salary for a year or two in order to get the country back in shape. They all have been on vacations and enjoyed their selves while their followers are here looking like fools protesting their life away. They have these smart educated people by the nose ready to drink the water and drown. You know you will deserve what ever the republicians do to you when they get back in the congress, the sad thing is that the innocent will have to suffer too.

    September 11, 2010 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
    • MEEENMACHINE

      Hey retard , your on the wrong topic to make your political statement ! There are ignorant people on both sides of the political spectrum ! Common sense should guide you and not what party you belong to .

      September 11, 2010 at 3:21 am | Report abuse |
  13. ericaalice

    What is Going On?
    I will never understand how so many people on this earth can choose profits over common decency and humanity. How can so many of you intelligent, wealthy and influential people have such a complete disregard for this entire planet and all that inhibits it? You have the power and capital resources to purify water resources that are in dire need, yet you look the other way while children die from dysentery. You have the ability to develop a renewable system that would feed millions of starving people, but you hide behind your corporations and companies. All while thousands of children will take their last breaths tonight not knowing what it is like to feel full from a good meal. You have the ability to create and implement cooperate strategies that would have an influence over curing the sick, global conflict—saving the planet... Yet you celebrate your successes while terrorists slaughter families; when they are giving thanks to God for the little that they do have. At what point in your life did your love for living things die? I don’t get it. I educate myself so I can make a difference. I want $$$ and power too, but I want it the right way. I want to be respected for who I am, not what I have. Business is such a beautiful word. Please, stop making it so ugly. What if your rank in society would be determined by the content of your character instead of the content of your financial assets? On what level would you be? It is time to invest in the same people from whom you profit. If you have the ability to make a difference, than make it. People will thank you— God will thank you.

    In addition, it is tragic that there is so much hostility over religious beliefs. While many religions have specific details that vary greatly between each other, the main idea is that we believe in a higher power. Of course, the holy book of each religion differs from one another, because the opinions and recollections of the people writing those books differed from one another. If they did not, we would all be reading copies of the same book. We are reading opinions and are continuing the same arguments that started ages ago. If you read each of these holy books and quickly summarize each one (with the exception of a few extremist opinions, and consider the varied locations of events) they all stress the same points. Personally, with as much hatred, greed and pure ignorance this world is filled with... as long as my children are praying to GOD... and they do their best to be honest and good people... It really does not matter which religion, if any... that they choose to follow. My partner was, is, and always will be—Muslim. He is devoted to his faith. With his God-given common sense, he also knows what to take seriously from it. Just as I do with the Christian faith. In fact, our children often end their evening dinner prayers with “In Jesus name we pray, Thank you God, Allah u Akbar, Amen.”

    The Art of Religion... “I can go to an art gallery and observe a painting, admire the peaceful sunset, appreciate the detail in the delicate flowers, and form my opinion of the artist’s work. The person standing next to me may see an enlightening sunrise, notice the detail of the delicate leaves on a towering tree, and form their own opinion of the masterpiece and the intention of the artist that created it. We have very different interpretations, but we are both looking at the very same painting...”

    September 11, 2010 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. ericaalice

    What is Going On?
    I will never understand how so many people on this earth can choose profits over common decency and humanity. How can so many of you intelligent, wealthy and influential people have such a complete disregard for this entire planet and all that inhibits it? You have the power and capital resources to purify water resources that are in dire need, yet you look the other way while children die from dysentery. You have the ability to develop a renewable system that would feed millions of starving people, but you hide behind your corporations and companies. All while thousands of children will take their last breaths tonight not knowing what it is like to feel full from a good meal. You have the ability to create and implement cooperate strategies that would have an influence over curing the sick, global conflict—saving the planet... Yet you celebrate your successes while terrorists slaughter families; when they are giving thanks to God for the little that they do have. At what point in your life did your love for living things die? I don’t get it. I educate myself so I can make a difference. I want $$$ and power too, but I want it the right way. I want to be respected for who I am, not what I have. Business is such a beautiful word. Please, stop making it so ugly. What if your rank in society would be determined by the content of your character instead of the content of your financial assets? On what level would you be? It is time to invest in the same people from whom you profit. If you have the ability to make a difference, than make it. People will thank you— God will thank you.
    In addition, it is tragic that there is so much hostility over religious beliefs. While many religions have specific details that vary greatly between each other, the main idea is that we believe in a higher power. Of course, the holy book of each religion differs from one another, because the opinions and recollections of the people writing those books differed from one another. If they did not, we would all be reading copies of the same book. We are reading opinions and are continuing the same arguments that started ages ago. If you read each of these holy books and quickly summarize each one (with the exception of a few extremist opinions, and consider the varied locations of events) they all stress the same points. Personally, with as much hatred, greed and pure ignorance this world is filled with... as long as my children are praying to GOD... and they do their best to be honest and good people... It really does not matter which religion, if any... that they choose to follow. My partner was, is, and always will be—Muslim. He is devoted to his faith. With his God-given common sense, he also knows what to take seriously from it. Just as I do with the Christian faith. In fact, our children often end their evening dinner prayers with “In Jesus name we pray, Thank you God, Allah u Akbar, Amen.”

    The Art of Religion... “I can go to an art gallery and observe a painting, admire the peaceful sunset, appreciate the detail in the delicate flowers, and form my opinion of the artist’s work. The person standing next to me may see an enlightening sunrise, notice the detail of the delicate leaves on a towering tree, and form their own opinion of the masterpiece and the intention of the artist that created it. We have very different interpretations, but we are both looking at the very same painting...”

    September 11, 2010 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
  15. fisherhoo

    so naive......of course it is a war against Islam.....not all Islamic followers....but absolutely those ass backwards Islamics that that continue to interpret the quaran as justification for the killing of the infidels.....call it what it is...politically correct or not...

    September 11, 2010 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
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