From Mullah Lodabullah@3:800/432 to All on Sat Oct 6 23:59:13 2007
05 October 2007
Bush Says Islam Is a "Great Religion that Preaches Peace"
President tells Al Arabiya those who murder innocents are not religious
By Stephen Kaufman
USINFO Staff Writer
Washington -- Ahead of hosting an iftar celebration at the White House, President Bush said the Islamic religion "is a great religion that preaches peace,oe and that Americans are free oto worship any way they see fit."
Bush spoke October 4 with Al Arabiya television and answered questions concerning the War on Terror and the freedom of religion in the United States.
Muslim extremists have "done a good job of propagandizing" the idea that Americans do not like the Islamic faith, Bush said, stating his own belief that
the global community, regardless of individual faiths, "prays to the same God."
The president later hosted an iftar event at the White House, celebrating the daily breaking of the fast observed by Muslims during the month of Ramadan.
"I believe that Islam is a great religion that preaches peace," Bush said, and Americans are free "to worship any way they see fit."
"[Y]ou can be free to worship, and it's your choice to make. It's not the state's choice, and you shouldn't be intimidated after you've made your choice," Bush said, adding that religious freedom is "a right that I jealously guard." (See related article.)
The president said he does not believe that those who murder innocent men, women and children for political objectives are "religious people," whether they be suicide bombers in Iraq or self-proclaimed Christians such as Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people in a 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City.
"[T]hat's not a Christian act to kill innocent people," Bush said, and those who carried out the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against New York and Washington "do not reflect the views of the vast majority of peaceful people in
the Middle East."
The president said "the last thing" he wants to be is a president during wartime and added the war against terror "is not a struggle against - the Muslim religion."
"[I]t is a struggle of honorable, peaceful people throughout the world against the few who want to impose their vision" upon them, he said.
"I think people, if given a chance, will seize freedom," he said.
See transcripts of the president's interview with Al Arabiya and remarks at the
White House iftar.
(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)