President Obama waded into the controversy over a Gainesville pastor’s plan to burn copies of the Quran on September 11, calling the action a “stunt” that could trigger “serious violence” against American troops in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and that would serve as a “recruitment bonanza for al-Qaida.” But he also makes the point that the law and the constitution limit what the government can do.
The president made the comments during an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Said the president:
“If he’s listening, I just hope he understands that what he’s proposing to do is completely contrary to our values … this country has been built on the notions of religious freedom and religious tolerance,” Obama said. “As a very practical matter, as commander (in) chief of the armed forces of the United States, I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan.”
In the exclusive one-on-one interview on Wednesday with “GMA” co-anchor George Stephanopoulos, the president discussed initiatives to boost the flagging economy, tax cuts and the upcoming midterm elections. He also said Terry Jones’ actions could boost recruitment of people who would be willing to “blow themselves up” in cities in America or Europe.
It’s unlikely that Jones would be swayed by Obama. The controversial pastor, whose congregation has been likened to a cult, has stated that he thinks the president was only elected because he’s black. Jones has expressed admiration for George W. Bush, but so far, the former president has not commented on the proposed book-burning.
Full interview transcript here.