Obama says terrorism will not divide America
US President Barack Obama declared that the United States will not be divided by terrorists as he attended a ceremony at the Pentagon Saturday marking the attacks nine years ago the sparked the worldwide war on terrorism, dpa reported.
Obama called on Americans to tolerate religions of all faith while reaffirming his commitment to defeat al-Qaeda, the terrorist network blamed for the attacks the claimed the lives in 2,973 people.
"They may seek to spark conflict between different faiths, but as Americans we are not - and never will be - at war with Islam," Obama said. "It was not a religion that attacked us that September day - it was al-Qaeda, a sorry band of men which perverts religion."
"They may seek to strike fear in us, but they are no match for our resilience," he said. "We do not succumb to fear, nor will we squander the optimism that has always defined us as a people."
Terrorists hijacked four planes, slamming two of them into the World Trade Center in New York, one into the Pentagon while a fourth crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after the passengers overpowered the hijackers.
Obama addressed the families during the wreath laying ceremony near the site where the plane hit the Defence Department.
"Nine years have now passed. In that time, you have shed more tears than we will ever know," he said. "And though it must seem some days as though the world has moved on to other things, I say to you today that your loved ones endure in the heart of our nation, now and forever."
The commemoration in the United States came at a time of controversy amid plans by a New York imam to build a Islamic cultural centre and mosque near the site of the World Trade Centre, and by now abandoned plans of a Florida pastor to burn Korans.
The pastor, Terry Jones, sparked worldwide outrage with his plans to burn copies of the Koran at his Gainesville, Florida church, to mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. But under immense pressure, Jones said Thursday he would not follow through.
Jones faced heavy criticism from Obama and other US officials as well as worldwide leaders. The White House feared the burning would spark a backlash against the United States and endanger US troops serving in Muslim countries.