(photo credit: Associated Press)
WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama is exhorting a Florida minister to "listen to those better angels" and call off his plan to engage in a Koran-burning protest this weekend.
Obama told ABC's "Good Morning America" in an interview aired Thursday that he hopes the Rev. Terry Jones of Florida listens to the pleas of people who have asked him to call off the plan. The president called it a "stunt."
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"If he's listening, I hope he understands that what he's proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans," Obama said. "That this country has been built on the notion of freedom and religious tolerance."
"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 president added.
Obama continued, "Look, this is a recruitment bonanza for Al Qaida.
You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan and
Afghanistan." The president also said Jones' plan, if carried out, could
serve as an incentive for terrorist-minded individuals "to blow
themselves up" to kill others.
"I hope he listens to those better angels and understands that this is a
destructive act that he's engaging in," the president about Jones.
Earlier, several members of his adminstration, including US Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton, had denounced the Koran-burning plan.
Also, Army Gen. David Petraeus, the ground commander in Afghanistan, has
said the act of burning the Koran could endanger troops fighting there.
On Wedneday, the State Department has ordered US embassies around the
world to assess their security ahead of the planned weekend
demonstration in Florida.
Officials said US diplomatic posts have been instructed to convene
"emergency action committees" to determine the potential for protests
over the congregation's plans to burn the Koran to commemorate the Sept.
11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The posts are to warn American citizens in
countries where protests may occur.