A Thank You, and a Koran, for Obama


By Andrea Fuller – http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/30/a-thank-you-and-a-koran-for-obama/

President Obama will soon receive a thank-you gift for his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo. Inspired by the address, in which Mr. Obama quoted the Koran, the Council on American-Islamic Relations plans to distribute 100,000 copies of the Koran to national, state and local leaders.

The council’s national executive director, Nihad Awad, said at a news conference in Washington today that the speech, in which Mr. Obama called for the end to mutual suspicion between Americans and Muslims, was “inspiring” and “historic.”

The council is soliciting donations to pay for the books; at the national convention of the Islamic Society of North America on July 5, the name of one donor will be chosen as sponsor of the Koran that will be sent to Mr. Obama.

In a public opinion survey done by the council, almost 60 percent of Americans said they were “not very knowledgeable” or “not at all knowledgeable” about Islam. Mr. Awad said that the organization hopes to educate Americans about Islam to combat prejudice.

Over the next 10 years, the council plans to distribute one million copies of the text to the American public through its “Share the Quran”campaign.

“This project is pure education,” said Mr. Awad, who said the council was not attempting to proselytize.

Mr. Obama has said he hopes to reduce tensions between America and the Middle East, and between Muslims and non-Muslims. Mr. Obama’s father was Muslim, though the president is Christian.

“There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground,” he said in his Cairo address

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