Obama Condemns Planned Quran Burning

President Obama has joined a growing international chorus of leaders who are condemning a small Florida church's plans to hold an "International Burn-a-Quran Day" on this year's 9/11 anniversary.

Speaking in an interview aired Thursday morning on ABC's Good Morning America, the president denounced the planned demonstration as a "stunt" and a "recruitment bonanza for al-Qaeda."

"If he's listening, I hope he understands that what he's proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans," Mr. Obama said of the demonstration's leader, Pastor Terry Jones. "That this country has been built on the notion of freedom and religious tolerance."

"I hope he listens to those better angels and understands that this is a destructive act that he's engaging in," the president added.

Mr. Obama's remarks come just two days before the planned book burning, which has received a barrage of criticism from international leaders, including the president of Indonesia, who sent a letter to Mr. Obama asking him to intervene.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said that he "strongly opposed" the planned demonstration, while former Prime Minister Tony Blair called the act disrespectful and wrong and urged people to read the Quran rather than burn it.

Demonstrations in Pakistan and Afghanistan were held this week with protestors burning American flags and chanting slogans such as "Down with America!"

Members of President Obama's cabinet, including Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and General David Petraeus have also condemned the book burning plans.

During an iftar dinner on Tuesday at the White House, Ms. Clinton said, "I am heartened by the clear, unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful, disgraceful act that has come from American religious leaders of all faiths, from evangelical Christians to Jewish rabbis, as well as secular U.S. leaders and opinion-makers."

"Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation," she added.

Petraeus, who is the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, said that the book burning would endanger U.S. troops.

"It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort," Petraeus told The Wall Street Journal on Monday. "It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community."

Meanwhile, Jones, whose congregation numbers about 50, has said that his church is praying about their plans but have not yet made a decision to cancel the event.

According to USA Today, Jones said that a call from the White House, State Department or the Pentagon would cause him to "definitely think it over."

"I don't think a call from them is something we would ignore," he said.

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