Obama: Burning Koran Equals 'al-Qaeda Recruitment Bonanza'
US President Barack Obama has condemned as "recruitment bonanza for al-Qaeda" the plans of an US pastor from Florida to burn copies of the Muslim's holy book Koran.
"You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan... This could increase the recruitment of individuals who'd be willing to blow themselves up in American cities, or European cities," Obama said in an interview for the ABC television, as reported by the BBC.
Pastor Terry Jones from a very little evangelical Christian church in Gainesville, Florida has announced that by burning copies of the Koran, he would mark the 9th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"I hope Mr. Jones understands that what he's proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans, that this country has been built on the notion of freedom and religious tolerance," Obama said.
He has warned that the intentions of the pastor could endanger the lives of US military personnel serving in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
"And as a very practical matter, I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women who are in uniform," the US president said.
Obama added that he hopes Jones would listen to "those better angels" and reconsider his intentions.
The BBC has reported that US officials said they could not intervene because the pastor is protected by the US constitution's guarantee of freedom of speech.
On Wednesday, Jones said that he would not reconsider burning the Koran because his intention was to draw attention to his belief that "something's wrong".
"It is possibly time for us in a new way to actually stand up, confront terrorism," Jones said, as reported by the BBC.
Earlier, EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and US and NATO commander in Afghanistan David Petraeus have also condemned the pastor's plan.
Jones' intentions are an extreme form of Islamophobia, provoked by the plans for construction of an Islam culture center in New York close to Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the 2001 terrorist attacks.
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