WASHINGTON (AP) " President Barack Obama marked the Sept. 11 anniversary by looking back with pride at how the country "responded to the worst of depravity with the best of our humanity" and embraced a sense of national unity.
"We are one nation " one people " bound not only by grief, but by a set of common ideals," the president said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address, aired hours before he headed to the Pentagon for a memorial service.
This year's remembrances of the 2001 attacks took place with growing public suspicion of Muslims, an emotion dispute over an Islamic community center and mosque planned near ground zero in New York City, and a Florida pastor's threat to burn Qurans.
"This is a time of difficulty for our country," Obama said. "And it is often in such moments that some try to stoke bitterness " to divide us based on our differences, to blind us to what we have in common.
"But on this day, we are reminded that at our best, we do not give in to this temptation," Obama said.
At a White House news conference Friday, Obama denounced the threatened Quran burning, said Muslims have the same right as any other religion to build near ground zero and appealed for religious tolerance. "We are not at war against Islam," he said.
Meanwhile, the Rev. Terry Jones backed away from his plan to burn the Muslim holy book, saying on NBC's "Today" show Saturday that "God is telling us to stop."
In the GOP's weekly address, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., echoed Obama's plea for a common purpose. Kyl called for the country to "recapture the unity that allowed us to come together as a nation to confront a determined enemy."
Without mentioning the president by name, Kyl seemed to question the Obama administration's commitment to the fight against terrorism begun by President George W. Bush. Obama recently declared an end to combat missions in Iraq even as he pledged to renew war-fighting efforts in Afghanistan and pursue al-Qaida terrorists.
"The fact that none of the subsequent attempts to attack us have succeeded seems to have removed some of the urgency and commitment so necessary to succeed in war," Kyl said.
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