NEW YORK — A day of mourning for nearly 3,000 Sept. 11 victims began with moments of silence and tears near ground zero, as observers braced for protests over a mosque planned blocks away on what is usually an anniversary free of politics.
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at the Pentagon, President Barack Obama alluded to the controversy over a mosque – and a Florida pastor's threat, later rescinded, to burn copies of the Muslim holy book.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.
"We will not give in to their hatred," Obama said. "As Americans, we will not or ever be at war with Islam."