York: Barack Obama, the US
president, has marked the ninth anniversary of the attacks against
the United States on September 11, 2001 by saying his country is
not at war with Islam.
The president's remarks came amid controversies over a planned
Islamic centre to be built near Ground Zero and a Florida pastor's
plans to burn copies of Quran to "send a message" on the anniversary of the
A series of commemorations took place on Saturday to honour the
nearly 3,000 people killed when members of al-Qaeda hijacked four
planes, crashing two of them into the World Trade Centre and
another into the Pentagon.
In New York, the names of the victims who died there were read out
- as they are every year - at the Ground Zero site, against a
background of sombre music at a service attended by Joseph Biden,
the US vice-president.
Obama attended a memorial service at the Pentagon, while a
separate service took place in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where
the fourth hijacked airliner crashed into a field.
Obama used his memorial speech to call once again for religious
tolerance, as the day threatened to be overshadowed by a fringe US
pastor's threat to burn copies of the Quran on Saturday.
The threat by Terry Jones, which was later withdrawn, has sparked
protests around the world have and has been heavily criticised by
Americans on both sides of the political divide.
"As Americans, we will 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."
On Friday, thousands of Muslims in countries including
Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Indonesia and the Palestinian
territories took to the streets to protest against the pastor's
The rallies continued on Saturday in the Afghan provinces of
Badakhshan and Logar.