9/11 politicized by mosque, Quran controversies
NEW YORK – For almost a decade, the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was marked by somber reflection and a call to unity, devoid of politics. Not this time.
This year’s commemoration of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pa., promises to be the most political and contentious ever because of a proposed Islamic center and mosque near ground zero and a Florida pastor’s plan to burn the Quran – and the debate those issues have engendered over religious freedom.
As in other years, official ceremonies are planned at the three locations the terrorists struck. President Barack Obama will attend a commemoration at the Pentagon, while Vice President Joe Biden will attend the ceremony at ground zero. First lady Michelle Obama and former first lady Laura Bush will travel to Shanksville to observe the ninth anniversary there.
Obama told a White House news conference that Sept. 11 would be “an excellent time” for the country to reflect on the fact that there are millions of Muslims who are American citizens, that they also are fighting in U.S. uniforms in Afghanistan, and “we don’t differentiate between ‘them’ and ‘us.’ It’s just ‘us.'”
He said a plan by Terry Jones, the pastor of a small, independent church in Gainesville, Fla., to mark 9/11 by burning copies of the Quran must be taken seriously because it could cause “profound damage” to U.S. troops and interests around the world.