NEW YORK (CBS/AP) — Tears and prayers shared by thousands in lower Manhattan and across the country overshadowed the controversy that swelled in the days leading up to Saturday’s ninth anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on American soil. Despite religious tensions growing amid calls to extinguish plans for a proposed mosque to be built near Ground Zero, the overwhelming togetherness that the annual ceremony brought to New York City cast the controversy aside, at least for a few hours.

Chants of thousands of sign-waving protesters both for and against the Islamic center were expected after an annual observance normally known for a sad litany of families reading names of loved ones lost in the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Speaking at “hallowed ground” at the Pentagon, President Barack Obama alluded to the controversy over a mosque — and a Florida pastor’s threat, later rescinded, to burn copies of the Muslim holy book. Obama made it clear that the U.S. is not at war with Islam and called the al-Qaida attackers “a sorry band of men” who perverted religion.

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“We will not give in to their hatred,” Obama said. “As Americans, we will not or ever be at war with Islam.”

Family members gathering at observances in New York and Pennsylvania brought flowers, pictures of loved ones and American flags, but no signs of opposition or support for the mosque. Reading victims’ names along with architects and engineers rebuilding ground zero in New York, they urged a restrained tone.

“Let today never, ever be a national holiday. Let it not be a celebration,” said Karen Carroll, who lost her brother, firefighter Thomas Kuveikis. “It’s a day to be somber; it’s a day to reflect on all those thousands of people that died for us in the United States.”

Standing before microphones, stifling sobs, some family members who read names sought to emphasize sentiments on all sides of the mosque argument.

Many sought to embrace unity and a spirit of reaching out, which is what the developers of the Islamic center have said is their goal.

“May we share your courage as we build bridges with other people to prevent this from happening again and to preserve human dignity for all,” said Robert Ferris, saluting the dozens of building workers who joined families in reading names.

Ferris lost his father, who worked at Aon Corp.

Bagpipes and drums played to open the ceremony, followed by brief comments by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“Once again we meet to commemorate the day we have come to call 9/11. We have returned to this sacred site to join our hearts together, the names of those we loved and lost,” Bloomberg said. “No other public tragedy has cut our city so deeply. No other place is as filled with our compassion, our love and our solidarity.”

Moments of silence were held at 8:46 a.m., 9:03 a.m., 9:59 a.m. and 10:28 a.m. to mark the times the hijacked jetliners hit the north and south towers of the World Trade Center, as well as the times they collapsed.

Laura Bush, first lady at the time of the attacks, joined current first lady Michelle Obama at a service in Shanksville, Pa., for victims of the flight that crashed in a field there, while the president attended the service at the Pentagon.

“May the memory of those who gave their lives here continue to be an inspiration to you and an inspiration to all of America,” Michelle Obama said, thanking Bush for helping the country through the aftermath of Sept. 11.

The mosque debate pits advocates of religious freedom against critics who say putting an Islamic center so close to ground zero disrespects the dead. While the rallies planned in New York embroiled victims’ family members in a feud over whether to play politics, a threat to burn copies of the Quran was apparently called off.

Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who made the threat, flew to New York on Friday night and appeared Saturday on NBC’s “Today” show. He said his church would not burn the Quran, a plan that inflamed much of the Muslim world and drew a stern rebuke from Obama.

“We feel that God is telling us to stop,” he told NBC. Pressed on whether his church would ever burn the Islamic holy book, he said: “Not today, not ever. We’re not going to go back and do it. It is totally canceled.”

Lending credence to Jones’ comments, a “Burn a Koran Day” banner outside his Florida church was taken down.

Still, protests continued Saturday in Afghanistan, where most people were unaware of Jones’ decision. Police fired warning shots to prevent protesters from storming the governor’s residence in Puli Alam in Logar province, officials said. Villagers set fire to tires and briefly blocked a highway to Pakistan, a provincial spokesman said.

Jones said that he flew to New York in the hopes of meeting with leaders of the Islamic center but that no such meeting was scheduled.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, leader of the planned mosque, said Friday that he was “prepared to consider meeting with anyone who is seriously committed to pursuing peace” but had no meeting planned with Jones.

Activists in New York insisted their intentions were peaceful. More than 1,000 protesters on both sides of the issue were expected to converge at the mosque site, a former clothing store two blocks north of the trade center site.

John Bolton, who was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, was expected to send a videotaped message of support to the anti-mosque rally, as was conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart. Anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who advocates banning the Quran and taxing Muslim women who wear head scarves, planned to address the crowd in person, as do a handful of Republican congressional candidates who have made opposition to the mosque a centerpiece of their campaigns.

Muslim prayer services are normally held at the site, but it was padlocked Friday and closed Saturday, the official end of the holy month of Ramadan. Police planned 24-hour patrols until next week. Worshippers on Friday were redirected to a different prayer room 10 blocks away.

Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the New York ceremony, where 2,752 people were killed when two jetliners flew into the trade center.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (25)
  1. nathan says:

    Anyone on EITHER SIDE who spends this day of remembrance arguing over the mosque or Korans shows disrespect to the victims and their families.

    1. Thomas Sam says:

      It provides people with a plause of thinking that is best for everyone.

  2. alulu says:

    why cant those moslims go back where they belong an leave america in peace instead instead of making as not to breathe in our own land give us abreak u moslims go back to ur own nations

  3. Dan Te says:

    FACT: Everywhere where there are mu-Slimes, sh-!t happens.

    China — sh-!t happens
    (suicide bombers that kill little children and run amok with metal pipes in the streets)

    India — sh-!t happens
    (mu-slimes burned 100s of hindus alive in packed trains and burned villagers alive while they slept)

    Middle East — sh-!t happens
    (suicide bombers that kill little children)

    Russia — sh-!t happens
    (suicide bombers that kill women and children in crowded theaters)

    South East Asia — sh-!t happens
    (mu-slime thugs who kidnap teachers, school children, nurses, priests for ransom, than murder them all)

    Europe — sh-!t happens
    (suicide bombers that kill little children)

    USA — 9/11 happened

    Goes to reason, no mu-slimes, no sh-!t.
    All these camel turds understand is violence and lies anyway. I say we oblige them by killing them all and than lie about how sorry we are.

    Islam. It’s a disease. And like any other infestations of boils, pox and pestilence, it should be eradicated. You don’t talk to diseases. You eradicate them like you did polio.

    And some bleeding heart imbecile here will post that it’s just a few individuals that are murderous, just like any other society. But than conveniently forgetting about the Fact that it happens worldwide and by a LOT MORE than just a few individuals. And they also continues to blank out of their empty heads the worldwide mu-slime jubilee celebrations as people burned on 9/11.

    1. Fareed says:

      It happens in world wide because you are in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and supporting Israel to kill Muslims and build settlement in the name of chosen people of God or Jewish home theory. Those occupying Jews deserve nothing because they are Europeans and they have nothing to do with the Jews in the Middle East, they are considered invaders or occupiers like the US and the NATO in the land of the Muslims. India is at war with Muslim, Russia is at war and some others like Philippine and Thailand where Muslims are demanding freedom to live and choose. So when they the governments kill them they retaliate and the innocent people are caught but as an ordinary Muslim I can do nothing because you have invaded Muslim countries in the name of freedom and Democracy but you have killed hundreds of thousands of people but mourn for 3000 who were killed by your own government which closed the case prematurely and went to war to regime change but still they are there. Please stop insulting Islam and accusing the Muslims for your own misadventures but fight like heroes if you can but you are a loser if you want to fight Islam. If you really fought the so called terrorists, by now the war is over but it continues because you have got entangled with Islam instead of the illusive terrorists which will not offer the other cheek for the invaders and oppressors.(Bush said that he would smoke Bin laden out along with his other fighters; please ask him what went wrong.

  4. Dan Te says:

    Amazing. How mu-slimes lies and say nice-nice words and you morons falls all over yourselves to kiss his feet. Than he burns a few of you alive or blow you up into pieces and you’ll remember it for all of 2 days. Than your empty heads need to make room for remembering the latest tv show. Pathetic.

  5. morris wise says:

    A national holiday called all Gods Day should be declared where Krishna, Allah, Buddha, and Jehovah are respectfully given an equal chance to exclaim the same message: LET THE RICH KEEP WHAT BELONGS TO THEM AND SHARE THE LITTLE YOU HAVE. If those godly words of wisdom were followed throughout the year there would be peace on the planet and goodwill to all.

  6. Patricia says:

    To amen,

    Evil is not about religion or groups it’s about each human. You are one of the evil one’s.

    I’d wish with all my heart you would leave america and go back to where you or your ancestors came from.

    You are pollution at it’s worst.

  7. amen says:

    a dog will always remain adog so is amoslim

  8. Patricia says:

    To Robert. R
    I don’t have a problem with a mosque being built in nyc. I do though have a problem with it being build on burial ground. Years after 911 remains of those who were murdered were found only yards away from where the mosque wants to be built. It is still possible for more remains to be found even further away in the years to come.

    Why build there? Anywhere in nyc you can build. Why here? Please respect the burial ground of innocent people and others who wanted to help people.

    Mustafa said it best “show symoathies and understanding instead of focusing on our selfshess rights as americans.

    He is Muslim and understands what the word compassion means why can’t you?


    1. Fareed says:

      You are simply wrong here Muslims cannot and will not build or pray in a cemetery. So again you are wrong. I think you are just following the herd mentality when it comes to Islam.It is wrong to talk about things if you don’t have knowledge. Of course there are Muslims will always try to scratch your back if you are willing to scratch theirs but the problem is they don’t teach you Islam because they themselves are brainwashed by your Right Wing media. I am ready to debate with anybody that if he can prove that 9/11 is the work of Muslim. I believe it is the CIA and the Mossad combined; are you saying that 19 armatures brought down that magnificent building by flying plans into that building and the buildings came down like house of cards? please prove your case first with hard evidence.

  9. amen says:

    u must be dreaming those evil moslims will always remain evil get reed of that idear of mosque building of that place they will remain bombing u

  10. amen says:

    u americans are fools how do u allow moslims to a mosque where very own loved one were killed that is mockery u will regret it again a good moslim is a dead one

  11. Patricia says:

    Mustafa Miro you couldn’t of said it better. I’m proud to be an american along side you.

  12. Julios says:

    Building an Islamic Center is completely raising fear and terror to Christians

  13. Robert. R says:

    Mustafa, your opinion is great… You should try to voice it everywhere you can…. No lie!

    This issue is ridiculous…. Whatever the guys name that wants to build the mosque is OBVIOUSLY doing this for a reason… For what, we may never know. My guess would be to try to make some kind of point…. Either way, they are going about it the completely wrong way…

    I myself, do not opppose it. I understand some people may be offended by the idea as a slap in the face but they must remember that only a small percent of the religion is fanatical from what I understand…. They have a right just like we do to put a church of christ in the same spot… Just because we cant put one in the middle of Badgdad or Kabul doesnt mean someone doesnt have the right to do it here… It may be unfortunate for some, but the truth isnt always good for everyone.

    Why do wars over religion never end??? Since the dawn of man, we have faught over this subject… YOU WOULD THINK since most religions dont preach war or even violence for that matter that this wouldnt be an issue.

    I guess its just the way the world works…

  14. Joe says:

    The only good thing about putting this building in the chosen location is that
    the fanatics will think twice about destroying the new building, since it will
    also affect the mosque. If only we Christians would be true believers and stamp
    out the sex, drugs and greed that is rampant in our society and stop wasting
    time and energy on issues such as this.

    1. RZ says:

      This is a victory mosque

    2. Fareed says:

      I don’t think that Muslims are fanatics at all like the radical Christians because Islam is very clear.
      Any one who murders any person who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes; it shall be as if he murdered all the people. And anyone who spares a life, it shall be as if he spared the lives of all the people. [5:32].
      [60:8] GOD does not enjoin you from befriending those who do not fight you because of religion, and do not evict you from your homes. You may befriend them and be equitable towards them. GOD loves the equitable.

  15. Mustafa Miro says:

    I, as muslim, oppose the planned mosque near the trade center a politically incorrect move. We, muslims need to harness and build confiedance, not engage in cointrversay with the american people. It is our duty to show symoathies and understanding instead of focusing on our selfshess rights as americans.

    What is at issue here is living in peace among our citizens in the country that made it possible for us to have the freedom of religion.

    1. cb says:

      There already is a mosque in that neighborhood. Check it out! Or don’t you live in Lower Manhattan?

  16. Patrick says:

    One ponders if the terrorists have won. Undeniably our politicians amd military leaders and our national security team have acted to suppress Constitutionally guaranteed rights Were not they supposed to suppress those who seek to suppress us?

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