It has been 16 years since New York City woke up to a terror attack that changed America and the world.
Less than a week after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, US president George W. Bush, a Republican, gave a notably compassionate speech about America’s “Muslim brother and sisters”:
Read the text of the speech below, as reported in the White House Archives:
Thank you all very much for your hospitality. We’ve just had a wide-ranging discussions on the matter at hand. Like the good folks standing with me, the American people were appalled and outraged at last Tuesday’s attacks. And so were Muslims all across the world. Both Americans and Muslim friends and citizens, tax-paying citizens, and Muslims in nations were just appalled and could not believe what we saw on our TV screens.
These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. And it’s important for my fellow Americans to understand that.
The English translation is not as eloquent as the original Arabic, but let me quote from the Koran, itself: In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil. For that they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule.
The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.
When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace. And that’s made brothers and sisters out of every race—out of every race.
America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads. And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect.
Women who cover their heads in this country must feel comfortable going outside their homes. Moms who wear cover must be not intimidated in America. That’s not the America I know. That’s not the America I value.
I’ve been told that some fear to leave; some don’t want to go shopping for their families; some don’t want to go about their ordinary daily routines because, by wearing cover, they’re afraid they’ll be intimidated. That should not and that will not stand in America.
Those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don’t represent the best of America, they represent the worst of humankind, and they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior.
This is a great country. It’s a great country because we share the same values of respect and dignity and human worth. And it is my honor to be meeting with leaders who feel just the same way I do. They’re outraged, they’re sad. They love America just as much as I do.
I want to thank you all for giving me a chance to come by. And may God bless us all.
In contrast, today’s US president, Donald Trump, has claimed that some Muslims hold a “great hatred” toward Americans, made the false claim that “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the fall of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, and promised to ban refugees and immigrants from Muslim nations. Researchers have attributed a rise in hate crimes against Muslims in 2015 in part to the rhetoric of Trump’s presidential campaign.
Trump wasn’t in his native New York today to mark the anniversary. He instead gave a speech at the Pentagon that focused on “America’s might,” its military prowess, and the country’s continuous efforts to defeat its enemies.