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Bush: Friday a National Day of Prayer - 2001-09-13


President Bush has called for a nationwide day of prayer and remembrance Friday. The president says all Americans should come together in the wake of Tuesday's terrorist attacks regardless of their religion.

The president will attend a local prayer service in Washington Friday where he will ask all Americans to spend their lunch hour in prayer for the country and those killed in the terrorist attacks.

"I think about the families, the children," Mr. Bush said. "I am a loving guy and I am also someone, however, who has got a job to do. And I intend to do it. This is a terrible moment, but this country will not relent until we have saved ourselves and others from the terrible tragedy that came upon America."

Some Americans have responded to that tragedy by taking their anger out on Muslims in the United States. Gunmen shot the windows of a mosque in Texas Wednesday. People threw rocks through the window of an Arab-owned store in Washington. Police were stationed outside Islamic centers in Atlanta and Chicago. Muslim schools closed in Detroit and Los Angeles.

Mr. Bush says he understands there is a quiet anger in America following the attacks, but he says that anger must not be turned against Arab-Americans. In a telephone call to the governor of New York and mayor of New York City, the president said the United States must stand united as one nation in the fight against terrorism.

"There are thousands of Arab-Americans who live in New York City who love their flag just as much as the three of us do," the president said, "and we must be mindful that as we seek to win the war that we treat Arab-Americans and Muslims with the respect they deserve. I know that is your attitude as well. Certainly the attitude of this government, that we should not hold one who is a Muslim responsible for an act of terror."

Announcing Friday's day of prayer and remembrance, White House officials were careful to include Muslims in the appeal, saying people should go to their church, synagogue, or mosque to pray for the victims of the attack.

Arab-American leaders are asking for calm, saying many Muslims were among those killed when hijacked jetliners smashed into the World Trade Center.

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