Obama underscores diversity

Prez attempts to prevent backlash against Muslims for base shooting


Many Muslims hLt Col Charles Keller sits with his family during a vigil for those killed and wounded when US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood on Friday. AFPave been concerned that their community will somehow be blamed for the actions of the psychiatrist, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who prayed regularly at the Fort Hood mosque. Obama did not address that concern directly. But, speaking in his weekly address, he seemed to urge Americans not to dwell on the faith of the assailant, by reminding the nation of the broad diversity of those who serve.

“They are Americans of every race, faith, and station,” he said. “They are Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers. They are descendents of immigrants and immigrants themselves. They reflect the diversity that makes this America . But what they share is a patriotism like no other. What they share is a commitment to country that has been tested and proved worthy. What they share is the same unflinching courage, unblinking compassion and uncommon camaraderie that the soldiers and civilians of Fort Hood showed America and showed the world.”

Obama has ordered flags at government buildings to fly at half-staff until Veterans Day, and the White House has announced that he will attend a memorial service at Fort Hood when one is scheduled. That could come as early as Monday or Tuesday; Obama is planning to leave Wednesday for a weeklong trip to Asia. Obama has made it a goal of his presidency to repair relations with Muslims around the world.

In a major speech in Cairo this year, he called for a “new beginning” with the Muslim world. The shootings at Fort Hood, however, pose a different problem for the president, by shining a spotlight on the tensions Muslims feel inside the US.
In a Rose Garden appearance on Friday, Obama urged Americans not to “jump to conclusions” about the motives behind the shooting.

“We cannot fully know what leads a man to do such a thing,” he said in the Saturday address. “But what we do know is our thoughts are with every single one of the men and women who were injured at Fort Hood .”

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