August 1, 2002

WASHINGTON (AP)--After President Bush condemned ``some kind of false religion'' for motivating Mideast terror attacks, his spokesman hastened to emphasize Thursday that the president believes Islam is a peaceful religion.

In a picture-taking session with Jordan's King Abdullah, Bush said he grieved for the seven people killed in a bomb blast in Jerusalem on Wednesday, including five Americans.

``I just, I cannot speak strongly enough about how we must collectively get after those who kill in the name of some kind of false religion,'' Bush said.

Asked about the remark, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Bush was referring to terrorists who distort Islam to justify violence.

``The president believes very deeply that Islam is a religion of peace,'' he said. ``There are people who use the pretext of religion as an excuse to kill Jews, to kill Israelis, and now to kill Americans. And the president will oppose that with every fiber in his body.''

Muslims were angered last year when Bush described his war against terrorism as a ``crusade.'' The Crusades were wars fought in the Middle Ages after Christian armies traveled to Palestine, or what is now Israel, to attack the Muslim armies that then controlled Jerusalem.

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