9/11 anniversary a time for unity: Obama
The anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States is a time for Americans to remember they are "one nation under God" — no matter what that God is called, U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday.
Saturday will mark nine years since the deadly attacks, committed by Islamic militants, which killed nearly 3,000 people in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Penn.
In recent months, events like the proposed burning of the Qur'an in Florida and the outcry over a proposed Islamic cultural centre near Ground Zero have uncovered deep-seated feelings of suspicion and resentment toward Muslims.
Obama attributed those feelings in part to the struggling U.S. economy.
"I think that at a time when the country is anxious generally and going through a tough time, then fears can surface, suspicions, divisions can surface in a society," Obama told reporters at a press conference Friday morning.
He harkened back to the days and months following the Sept. 11 attacks, praising then President George W. Bush, whom he more often criticizes, for being "crystal-clear about the fact that [America was] not at war with Islam."
"And I will do everything that I can … to remind the American people that we are one nation under God, and we may call that God different names but we remain one nation," he said.
"I think it is absolutely important now for the overwhelming majority of the American people to hang on to that thing that is best in us, a belief in religious tolerance, clarity about who our enemies are — our enemies are al-Qaeda and their allies who are trying to kill us.
"We have to make sure that we don't start turning on each other."
As in other years, official ceremonies are planned Saturday in each of the three locations that were struck.
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 anniversary there.
With files from The Associated Press