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Discord as Bush preaches tolerance

The BBC's Washington correspondent, Rob Watson, is reporting that President Bush is finding himself at odds with some of his key supporters over his efforts to reach out to Muslims in the United States and around the world.

Shortly after the 11 September attacks, Mr Bush announced that the US would launch a crusade against international terrorism.

The term "crusade" was deemed highly offensive by Muslims, given its historical context, and was quickly dropped by the president.

Since that one slip, Mr Bush has gone out of his way to preach tolerance towards Islam.

He has made numerous visits to mosques and has repeatedly described Islam as a faith based on peace, love and compassion.

Most Americans have welcomed that approach - but not all.

A number of key conservatives, normally among the president's closest supporters, say on this issue he is wrong. Watson then goes on to detail a number of hardline conservative politicians and religious leaders who disagree with Bush.

He suggests: "In the year ahead, this will be a key debate to watch. The Bush administration is anxious not to allow the war on terrorism to become a clash of civilisations. Many conservatives are equally anxious to make the case that the president is frightened to tell what they see as the truth, for fear of upsetting America's moderate Arab allies."


31 Dec 2002