President Bush is urging all Americans to remember that America's enemy is terrorism, not Islam. On the eve of the first anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, Mr. Bush delivered a message of tolerance from the steps of Afghanistan's embassy in Washington.
Emotions are strong as the anniversary approaches. And the president is urging Americans not to project their anger and anxieties onto the Muslim community in the United States.
"All Americans must realize that the face of terror is not the true face of Islam," he said. "Islam is a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. It is a faith that has made brothers and sisters of every race. It is a faith based upon love not hate."
In the weeks following the terrorist attacks, the Bush administration preached a message of religious tolerance. The president visited an Islamic religious center in Washington, and he met with Muslim leaders.
His visit to the Afghan Embassy was reminiscent of those days. The words were familiar. "Bigotry is not a part of our soul," said the president, "it is not going to be part of our future."
"In our war against terror we must never lose sight of the values that made our country so strong values of respect and tolerance, the value that we believe that everybody ought to worship the almighty however they so choose," he said.
Before making his public remarks, President Bush met at the embassy with leaders of the Arab American and Muslim American communities. The president said they wanted to show their solidarity with the people of Afghanistan and to show that America has a vibrant, dynamic and important Muslim faith tradition.