PERSONAL MESSAGE TO PRIME MINISTER ERDOGAN FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA
September 14, 2012
I understand you are traveling between Ukraine and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and it is just after midnight in Washington.
I am writing to you because given what has happened in the last two days, there is a very real danger that there could be an escalation of violence on Friday that would be very damaging to our shared interests.
I am sure you are familiar with the video that has offended so many people around the world. Let me be clear that the US government had nothing to do with it. We reject its message, which entirely contradicts my personal views and the values that America stands for.
As you know, we respect Islam, and we are opposed to efforts to offend Islam by defaming the Prophet Mohammed. But we cannot block this video; it is not possible in this age of technology, and we are bound by our commitment to free expression.
Nevertheless, our embassies across the Middle East are at risk and we are deeply concerned that after Friday prayers our people and installations in the region could be vulnerable to attack. We must not let extremists use this video as a pretext to attack America, or our other allies and partners.
I believe that you are one of the most credible voices in the Islamic world today, and that if people hear from you calling for calm and condemning violence it will have a real impact.
I would ask that you speak out immediately and forcefully before people go to Friday prayers today.
It will be important to emphasize that diplomatic personnel and facilities must be respected and that the way to defend religion is through peace rather than violence.
As people of faith, we have an obligation to prevent the people who created this video from provoking a cycle of violence that violates the values that undergird our faith.
I thank you my friend, and I look forward to talking again in a few days’ time when you are at home.