Politics & Government

Obama calls plans to burn Qurans 'bonanza' for al Qaida

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Thursday appealed to a Florida pastor not to go forward with plans for burning Qurans this Saturday to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Calling the idea "destructive" and a "stunt," Obama said pastor Terry Jones' plans are "completely contrary to our values" of religious freedom and tolerance.

Obama also said that the burning of the Quran invites more terrorism.

"This stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan," Obama told George Stephanapolous on ABC's "Good Morning, America." "This is a recruitment bonanza for al Qaida."

Obama added, "You know, you could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who'd be willing to blow themselves up in American cities, or European cities."

The president said of Jones that as a man of faith, "I hope he listens to . . . those better angels."

Obama's appeal to Jones, who leads a non-denominational church in Gainesville, Fla., came after Army Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. foces in Afghanistan, made a similar statement and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cabled U.S. ambassadors throughout the world to stress that Jones' burning of the Muslim holy book to mark 9/11 had been denounced by the U.S. government.

On Thursday, the State Department issued a travel advisory warning U.S. citizens abroad to be alert for possible violence in reaction to the Quran burnings.

The advisory warned "of the potential for anti-U.S. demonstrations in many countries" and noted that "demonstrations, some violent, have already taken place in several countries, including Afghanistan and Indonesia."

"The potential for further protests and demonstrations, some of which may turn violent, remains high," the advisory said, adding that travelers should "pay attention to local reaction to the situation and . . . avoid areas where demonstrations may take place."

Meanwhile, in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki told the U.S. ambassador and the top American general there that the U.S. must do all it can to prevent the Quran burning from taking place.

During a meeting with Ambassador James Jeffrey and Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, Maliki said that burning the Qurans could become a pretext for attacks on Americans. Maliki rejected the idea that the perpetrators of 9/11 were representative of Muslims in general.

McClatchy special correspondent Laith Hammoudi in Baghdad contributed to this report

Read more: http://blogs.mcclatchydc.com/washington/2010/09/obama-to-pastor-scrap-koran-burning-stunt-a-recruiting-bonanza-for-al-qaida.html#ixzz0z3AXCC9N

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