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11/15/02 - BUSH ON ISLAM - 2002-11-15

A United States-led coalition is waging a global war against a network of terrorists trying to impose its extremist views on others. The first major battle has been going on in Afghanistan where the oppressive Taleban regime, supported by Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terrorists, was removed from power. The people of Afghanistan are once again free.

The war against terrorism is being fought on other fronts as well, including Yemen, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Wherever al-Qaida-type terrorists are found, they will be hunted down and brought to justice.

And as President George W. Bush said, “If we wage this war to defend our principles, we must live up to those principles ourselves. And one of the deepest commitments of America is tolerance. No one,” said Mr. Bush, “should be unfairly judged by appearance or ethnic background, or religious faith. We must uphold these values of progress and pluralism and tolerance.”

The U.S. has a long tradition of tolerance. More than two hundred years ago, George Washington, America’s first president, said that the U.S. gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance. As President Bush said, “This was our policy at our nation’s founding. This is our policy today.”

America rejects all forms of religious intolerance. America grieves with all victims of religious bigotry. And America, said President Bush, opposes all who commit evil in God’s name.

More than one-billion Muslims around the world, including in the U.S., are now celebrating Ramadan. According to Muslim teachings, this month-long observance commemorates the revelation of God’s word in the Koran to the prophet Muhammad. And as President Bush said, “Ramadan and the upcoming holiday seasons are a good time to remember the ties of friendship and respect that bind us together. Learning from each other we can build bridges of mutual trust and understanding. Working together we can create a better future for people of all faiths.”