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Imam Abdullah M. Khouj, who leads the Islamic Center of Washington, said moderate Muslim leaders are trying to speak out against terrorism.

“Everybody’s striving, but people are different in their work. … Some people are reserved,” Mr. Khouj said. “But his speech was wonderful, and we were happy to have him.”

Mr. Bush, in his speech, also proclaimed America as a place of religious liberty, and sought to dispel the notion that the U.S. presence in Iraq and its broader war against terrorism is a war against Islam.

“The freedom of religion is the very first protection offered in America’s Bill of Rights,” Mr. Bush said. “It is a precious freedom … the promise of our Constitution, and a calling of our conscience, and a source of our strength.”

The president acknowledged that “there are questions about America and her intentions” toward the Middle East, but accused Islamic radicals and terrorists of spreading such ideas.

“This enemy falsely claims that America is at war with Muslims and the Muslim faith, when in fact it is these radicals who are Islam’s true enemy,” Mr. Bush said to scattered applause.

c Audrey Hudson contributed to this report.