US condemns Quran desecration

Published: March 26, 2011

Supporters of the religious and political party Jamaat-e-Islami wave party flags while shouting slogans against the recent reported burning of the Koran in Florida during a rally through Karachi. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: 

US State Department Spokesperson Mark C Toner on Friday condemned the burning of the Holy Quran by pastors in Florida, saying “we condemn such acts as disrespectful, intolerant and divisive.”

The US State Department had arranged an international audio-based press conference for journalists in South Asia on the continuing crisis in Libya, but Toner prefaced his opening remarks by condemning the desecration of the Holy Quran.

He said public condemnation had come in from several US organisations. “We are deeply concerned. We firmly believe in freedom of religion and freedom of expression,” Toner said, adding that these are universal rights enshrined in the US Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He further said that the “deliberate destruction of any holy book is abhorrent.”

When asked if any criminal prosecution was possible, Toner said this was a legal issue and not within the jurisdiction of the State Department and was for the authorities in Florida to determine. He added that the action of the Florida pastors did not represent the vast majority of Americans.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (40)

  • John
    Mar 25, 2011 - 10:59PM

    The US state department should ALSO say that it is within the rights of Americans guaranteed by the US constitution, as upheld by the US SC court again and again.

    Where were they when the “Muslim” radicals desecrated US institutional symbols and sang death to America in American soil as they did in PAK soil?

    Where were they when US senators’ and President’s effigies’ were burnt in PAK soil?

    Diplomacy is a two way street. Recommend

  • Babur Chughtai Mughal
    Mar 25, 2011 - 11:03PM

    The US state department should be thanked for this statement. The Department and the US govt should also have the stomach to understand that this statement is not enough.

    Imagine if a spokesperson in a Muslim country came out after 9/11 to say the terrorist act ‘should not have happened’ and that ‘expression of opinion does not include attacking innocent people’ and that’s it.

    The US government should have taken action against the American lunatics. It should have announced that it is reviewing laws to plug any holes that might allow future lunatics to incite hatred.

    Obviously the US govt is looking at this act as freedom of expression gone wrong. The US govt won’t consider this act as ‘extremism’ or ‘incitement to hatred’. These two tags are not for American citizens but are reserved for Muslims, in US govt view, apparently. Recommend

  • Habib
    Mar 26, 2011 - 1:00AM

    If US actually condemns this act and abides by its constitution, then it must show it practically by admonishing publicly that so-called pastors, and relieves them of their religious duties at the churches. Recommend

  • Indi
    Mar 26, 2011 - 1:22AM

    Is Pakistan sole defender of Islam????? Or Is Islam in danger if somebody burns a copy of Quran for some cheep publicity???? How come there is no protest when hundreds of Pakistanis are bumped off by the same fanatics who proclaim that they are the sole defenders of Islam????Recommend

  • Malik
    Mar 26, 2011 - 1:46AM

    @Habib:

    If US actually condemns this act and
    abides by its constitution, then it
    must show it practically by
    admonishing publicly that so-called
    pastors, and relieves them of their
    religious duties at the churches

    How many Maulanas get this treatment in Pakistan and other Muslim countries despite demonstrated persecution of Christians by them?Recommend

  • Mar 26, 2011 - 2:03AM

    A nut job of a pastor with a handful of followers committed a pointless act to inflame passions to prove his point. are we going to fall for his trap?Recommend

  • G. Din
    Mar 26, 2011 - 2:55AM

    @Habib:
    “If US actually condemns this act and abides by its constitution, ….”
    US government, brought to its knees by this anti-Muslim act, would have greatly appreciated your help in pointing out which clause of US constitution you are invoking and asking it to abide by.
    “…then it must show it practically by admonishing publicly that so-called pastors…”
    Evidently, the displeasure shown by the US government does not qualify, in your opinion, as “admonishment”. Again, it would help them tremendously if you spelled out the language that would satisfy you and the Muslims.
    “… and relieves them of their religious duties at the churches. “
    Are you aware that churches are supported in US by parishioners? If parishioners had wanted that, they would not have permitted this act to start with. Those parishioners may not like the government interfering, may be you should suggest the kind of punitive measures the government should take with regard to those erring parishioners that would satisfy you and the Muslims – say disenfranchise them or strip their citizenship!
    What kind of weather are you enjoying over there in your la-la land these days?Recommend

  • bs
    Mar 26, 2011 - 3:11AM

    I don’t understand the often extreme reaction of Muslims to news like burning the Quran. Do they really think Allah would be upset by the burning of a Quran book or blasphemy? Isn’t He powerful enough to take action by himself if He is really upset? Does He really want his followers to take action on his behalf?Recommend

  • pakpinoy
    Mar 26, 2011 - 5:38AM

    @Babur Chughtai Mughal:
    Try as you might, but no enlightened person will accept your argument that human lives are of equal value to paper and ink.

    If you took your focus off defending books made of paper and spent more time defending injustices against the weak and oppressed in your own land, you would be much better off — not to mention a much happier person!

    “Defend” your religion, if you must, by living a life of humility, generosity and self-sacrifice in your own backyard, not by comparing the peaceful burning of paper books to the mass murder of thousands of lives! How pathetic your view of humanity is!Recommend

  • pakpinoy
    Mar 26, 2011 - 5:48AM

    @Malik:
    No joke…the cowards in power in Pakistan can’t even condemn the murder of a fellow Muslim (Taseer), not to mention Bhatti or the countless others innocently victimized over religious intolerance and hatred!

    And all these posters here can comment on is the burning of paper and ink, of course. Who cares if “real crimes” against innocent people happen in their own backyards daily?

    It is some of the most warped values and morals known to mankind and is the stench of the earth. And Pakistanis wonder why it is so hard to gain respect and real “honor” among the peoples of the world! Because most of them will defend paper and ink being destroyed in some far off land before they will the poor and innocent HUMAN in their own land!!Recommend

  • Khurram
    Mar 26, 2011 - 5:58AM

    @John, very well said and I absolutely agree with you even though I am a Muslim, but I wholeheartedly condemn not only the desecration of Holy Book of any other Religion but also of National Flag or other National Symbol of any other Nation regardless of whether or not it is friendly to us. Just like human relatioships, the relations between the Nations too depend upon reciprocity and goodwill.
    To my fellow countrymen (Pakistanis) who are very fervent in chiding the US for not taking any action against those who committed this desecration by burning the Holy Quran, my advice would be to take a hike in the fresh air and deserve before you desire. We need to clean our own filthy house first before we can tell others to clean theirs’. Recommend

  • D. Asghar
    Mar 26, 2011 - 8:39AM

    @ John, did not know that any US citizen holds the President or a Senator as dear as divine. So your comparison does not make sense.

    One can take off clothes and go naked to express their freedom of speech to make some sort of lunatic statement, but there are decency laws in the US, which prevent people from doing so.

    So every freedom comes with a responsibility. If you do this act In the privacy of your home (taking clothes off, or burning any religious book for that matter), no harm no foul. When you display such acts in public, you can no longer use free speech as a cover for offensive acts. Recommend

  • Mar 26, 2011 - 9:23AM

    @John:
    Remember Mr. John that the Quran Kareem is the religion of Islam’s holiest book because it has come directly from ALLMIGHTY ALLAH.

    In comparision you have given presidential and senatorial effigies being burnt, and US institutional symbols being desecrated. What an unheard of comparison, unimaginable, decrepit and so very absurd. It shocks me to think that you are so naive, uneducated and myopic. No Muslim dare think of ever burning the Holy Bible, Holy Torah and the Holy Psalms. This is information for free.

    Since you dont like this country then go back to where you came from.Recommend

  • Ajay
    Mar 26, 2011 - 10:28AM

    Such intolerance! these protesters are crazy- out of mind, uncivilized. Anything can be justified against them. Recommend

  • Mar 26, 2011 - 10:32AM

    @Malik: Malik sahib, in Pakistan the molvis cant be admonished leave alone trying them or relieving them from their post. Why?

    Because these rabble rousers are armed to the teeth and have several tanzeems all over the country plus their offshoots.

    Because in the opinion of several educated people (supposedly) the molvi makes a better person out of us and our children.

    AND because our politicians are beholden to them for political support and are wary of their street power or maybe their pants will drop off. Salams for ever.Recommend

  • Qasim
    Mar 26, 2011 - 11:48AM

    Millions have and continue to memorize Quran by heart. Unlike other books, Quran is no danger if somebody burns one or all copies of Quran for cheep publicity.

    Howsoever disgusting, on the flip side, the so-called guardians of Islam (taliban and others) have descerated more copies of Quran by bombing mosques, imam bargahs, Ahmadiya place of worshop, schools, madersaas etc. etc. etc. Recommend

  • kumar
    Mar 26, 2011 - 1:03PM

    @Babur Chughtai Mughal: Unlike mohamedan countries, the U.S is a first class democracy. Freedom of expression is absolute,and the burning of the koran is protected legally under first amendment,a precious and ancient right dating back to the founding of the american nation in 1776.
    Even American national flags have been burnt and those are protected as well under first amendment.I know this is hard for a paki to understand,since the culture is different and the rights in a islamic society are markedly inferior.Recommend

  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Mar 26, 2011 - 1:20PM

    Is condemning by US enough??? Had someone talked against Holocaust the Americans would have gone out of the way to arrested that poor soul but when Terry Jones burns a Holy Koran, the act is only condemned.!!!!!!!! Recommend

  • G. Din
    Mar 27, 2011 - 1:12AM

    @Nazir Habib:
    “Remember Mr. John that the Quran Kareem is the religion of Islam’s holiest book because it has come directly from ALLMIGHTY ALLAH.”
    Quran is not the religion. May be you misspoke.. Then who says that it “has come directly from ALLMIGHTY ALLAH.”*? How can you prove that? The mere fact that it is your personal belief, does not make it so. Long ago, people believed that earth was flat and that the sun orbited the earth. Fanatics like you put those who believed otherwise through hell. It is your prerogative to believe whatever you wish. It is equally everyone else’s prerogative to believe what they want to. Five-sixth of the world does not believe in “ALLMIGHTY ALLAH”, the way you do and so, to them Quran is expression of the beliefs of yet another prophet and nothing more.. What are you going to do – put a dagger to their jugular? In this case, it may have been the belief of this pastor that Quran is indeed evil. You cannot dictate to him to change his belief. If you care, you may reason with him to change his mind. If you elect not to burn the Quran, that is your choice. Tell us, aren’t old unusable copies of Quran disposed of by burning?
    World cannot and will not allow fanatics to call the shots in this day and age just because they threaten intimidation. Recommend

  • Ahmer Ali
    Mar 27, 2011 - 11:46AM

    Assalam-o-Allaikum Warahmatullah.Just condemning and no any practical steps have been taken in this regard by US officials to eradicate such these types of events in the future.What the shameful statement given by US govt.Any how this statement is good enough for the co-called and nominal muslim world’s leaders to calm down and decrease their anger and hatred against USA.Recommend

  • Guy
    Mar 27, 2011 - 1:29PM

    Some guys who are comparing the desecration of the Holy Quran to a National Flag are completely brainless and lacking logical thinking. If a national flag of the US is burnt (not that I am supporting it) then the Americans can also burn a flag of Pakistan, Iran, or whichever Muslim country they may want. The Holy Quran CANNOT be compared to any flag or other national symbol. Burn a flag to avenge the burning of your US flag, if you must. But DON’T desecrate the Holy Quran (A divine book) followed by 1.5 Billion Human Beings (25% of the world population).Recommend

  • Disco Molvi
    Mar 27, 2011 - 2:04PM

    @All
    Last year, in February 2010, a fight took place between 2 main religious sects on the occassion of Eid Milad un Nabi in Faisalabad, which resulted in burning of hundreds of copies of the Quran.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDCjy_9vubo
    In the aftermath, the leaders of both the sect sat down for reconciliation and no charges of ‘Blasphemy’ were lodged nor any protests were taken out.

    Please speak up against this incident before going on an anti US rant.
    But I guess ignorance is a bliss, eh?Recommend

  • John
    Mar 27, 2011 - 6:08PM

    @All: in reply to all who were ranting against my comment :

    Just because Pope says it is holy it does not make it so.

    “Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to confront with conscience, among all liberties”- John Milton

    ” I disagree with all you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it”- Hall on Voltaire in his biography.

    I wrote a logical reply yesterday to ET for those who ridiculed my comments but ET likes to censor comments that do not ridicule others. Recommend

  • Cautious
    Mar 27, 2011 - 8:31PM

    The concept of separation of Church and State as well as “freedom of speech” are things that Pakistan doesn’t understand. The USA has people from all walks of life and all religious beliefs – saying and doing things that offend others is not against the law – threatening or harming people is. You can burn the Quran, Bible, Flag etc – it’s offensive behavior but it’s not illegal. If Pakistan doesn’t like it – tough – no one is begging you to move to America..Recommend

  • Asad
    Mar 28, 2011 - 2:08PM

    I am sick and tired of the blissful portrait people like John and Cautious try to portray of the US. The FACT is that in the US, no one can say a word against the jews nor can anyone praise hitler for the Holocaust. If one does, one is doomed. Where does freedom of speech disappear then? There was a recent case of a top employee of a designer fashion brand of the US who by mistake and in a drunk state made some anti semitic comments to some jewish girls at a club and jokingly said hitler with right to have done the holocaust. These comments (even though in a drunk state) were enough to have him swiftly sacked from his top job!! Freedom of speech?? Down the drain, if jews are affected by it!!

    As some one rightly said in the US ‘every one is equal, but some are more equal than others’ and ‘freedom of speech is only when you are attacking Islam, not when you are (verbally)attacking judaism or jews’

    One other example of US double standards was refusal of the removal from facebook of the page meant to submit (supposed) drawings of Allah’s Last Messenger (saw) but VERY QUICK removal of the facebook fan page of Mumtaz Qadri and then branding all 170 million pakistanis as extremists because some mere 2000 people had made a fan page for Mumtaz Qadri. is there Freedom of speech in the US? NO. I would say there are DOUBLE STANDARDS in the US.Recommend

  • pakpinoy
    Mar 29, 2011 - 11:41AM

    @Asad:
    You are so messed up. You just compared those who draw cartoons of your prophet with a self-confessed murderer, motivated by hate and intolerance.

    Do your homework before spouting examples of double standards. You have no clue! The US may or may not be as great as touted, but there are thousands of examples of minority rights being legally protected from every race, creed, religion and gender (Pakistan murders and abuses it minorities instead of defending them!) Only a hypocritically dishonest person, which I suspect you may be, could deny this. For every example sited of a Jew being defended, a case can be presented of any other minority being defended, including Muslims! People flock to the US for primarily 3 reasons: 1) Opportunity based on merit, equality and justice 2) Freedom of thought, expression, worship and speech 3) The most impartial, fair and equal justice system in the world that DEFERS to minorities, females and the weaker party.

    Your people and your country behave in EXACTLY the opposite manner on all 3 items listed above! Let’s do a survey here of who would rather face justice (be they Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Atheist, Agnostic or Satanist!) in the US or ANY Muslim nation?? ONLY the rich and powerful, I guarantee — because they know they can influence or buy their way out of justice in your land but not in the land of evil America!

    Next time research facts before once again ranting and raving such hot air…Recommend

  • pakpinoy
    Mar 29, 2011 - 11:46AM

    @Asad:

    Wake up to reality…

    “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to
    those who issue oppressive decrees, to
    deprive the poor of their rights and
    withhold justice from the oppressed
    among the people.”

    “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
    who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
    who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”sweet for bitter.”

    Recommend

  • Asad
    Mar 29, 2011 - 2:00PM

    @Pakpinoy

    You seem to be some American guy who sees Pakistan only through your US media. If you live in Pakistan you will see how much minorities live at ease here. You need to research the facts on ground rather than ranting what the ‘western media’ portrays.

    Some FACTS on the Ground Reality:

    Christians and Hindus in Pakistan are on the TOP Positions of Giant National & Multinational Companies. As a community their economic situation is much better than the Majority Muslims in Pakistan .
    If you see the number of christians/Hindus killed in Pakistan and divide them by the total number of minorities staying in Pakistan, and then take the total number of muslims killed in drone attacks, bomb blasts, etc and divite them by the total muslim population of Pakistan, you will see that the percentage of christians killed to their total numbers is much less than the percentage of muslims killed to their total numbers in Pakistan. So its a FACT Minortities in Pakistan are safer than muslims are. This is media propaganda that when one or two christians are killed it is showed as there is a genocide being done in Pakistan.
    Conversely in the US you have more incidences of muslims being killed or molested but the media hides them. One case was of a bangadeshi muslim cab driver in NY seriously injured by his passenger in an islamophobic attack and several others that are not even reported!!
    FACT 4- In the US muslims as a community have the least number of jobs and are economically the most challenged. Young muslim professionals in US opt to start their own small business, because of the bigotry they face at work. Conversely christians in Pakistan are at top posts and have the highest level of employment!!
    This US pastor burns a copy of the Holy Quran. In Pakistan not even a SINGLE Cleric (Mullah) has burned the bible.

    So you need to research the ground facts in both countries rather than basing your comments and being ‘brain washed’ by the ‘US controlled’ media reports.Recommend

  • pakpinoy
    Mar 29, 2011 - 10:04PM

    @Asad:

    Let’s see if any Pakistani minorities post about how “fairly” they are treated. You assume a whole heck of a lot.

    Here are some facts for you: I lived and worked in your country for 9 years, still travel back for business reasons 3-4 times a year. I speak several of your languages, understand your culture, society and religion. I have many Pathan friends who would defend me with their lives. How’s that for being “brainwashed” by Western media??

    You got the wrong guy. I know your country and people firsthand. I have hundreds of close friends there — Pashtun, Punjabi, Mohajir, Hindkowan, Chitrali, you name it, they are my friends.

    I speak openly, with such conviction, because I’ve seen and grieved over the destructive path you and your people are currently on. I will quote once again because the words ring so true:

    “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
    who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
    who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

    Recommend

  • Asad
    Mar 30, 2011 - 1:40PM

    @Pakpinoy

    Well your last comment says it all. You have pakistani friends from different ethnic origins and you have some pashtun friends who would defend you with their lifes. So it shows how much Pakistanis (foolish Pakistanis!!) love and care for non muslims in Pakistan.
    In return what they get is a ‘friend’ like you who shreds them (and their image) apart. I have also lived in the US for several years and speak from experience as well. Unfortunately I do not have even a SINGLE American friend who would give his life for me. I met several like yourself though- good on the face, haters at the back…

    Reading your last comment makes me sad. If you had been a guy who never came to Pakistan and made such comments, I could have sympathised with you. But having stayed here for 9 years and made ‘life giving’ pakistani friends and still making such hateful statements about the Pakistani nation and their religious sentiments, makes me sad indeed…

    Just remembered a verse in the Quran
    ‘The non believers will never be true friends of the believers’Recommend

  • pakpinoy
    Mar 31, 2011 - 1:54AM

    @Asad:
    You mistake my honesty and passion for hate. I have no hatred for you or your people. I consider some from among them my dearest friends. Though I also am wise enough to know that I get disproportionate respect and treatment as an Angrez kafir and business owner, compared to the many firsthand stories I’ve heard from the minority Pakistani communities — not just Christian, but also Shias, Ahmadis, Hindus, even Sikhs.

    I am cursing the system…cursing the lack of space for intellectual honesty that most exhibit..cursing the hypocritical stances of so many which involve denying reality, creating conspiracies, defending what is unGodly and unjust! Your people, God bless them, so often live in a self-deluded world without realizing how regressive and destructive their view of the world and those around them can be.

    You appear to be a sincere guy, but I urge you to keep your mind open. I mention many close Pakistani friends — but the reality is that so often it is on their terms, as I have learned about them, their culture, their religion, their language. I know what to avoid and what cannot be talked about. It’s 1 among 1000 who is open-minded enough to discuss these topics freely without offense. That’s the sad reality, Asad.

    My apologies if you are saddened or offended by me, my friend. I know you would treat me with respect and hospitality were we to meet in your country some day. Not to overly offend my Indian friends here, but without question I am treated with more hospitality and respect in Pakistan than I am in India — really not much comparison. When done in sincerity without wrong motives, this is something to be proud of.

    I’m reminded of a great “matal” (Pashto) or “misal” in Urdu if you prefer…

    Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
    But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

    Recommend

  • Asad
    Mar 31, 2011 - 4:41PM

    Dear Mr Fulton (Alias pakpinoy)
    Thank you for your love for pakistanis, as shown in your comments in ET.
    on behalf of the ordinary Pakistani masses.Recommend

  • pakpinoy
    Apr 1, 2011 - 11:18AM

    @Asad:
    Mr. Fulton? Wrong guy…I’m not sure if that was sarcasm or sincerity, but I’ll assume the latter…Recommend

  • Asad
    Apr 1, 2011 - 1:12PM

    Mr Fulton or you or any other ‘angrez’ are quite the same in your thinking about we people…But its good comments like yours will probably open up the eyes of ‘foolish’ pakistanis…Recommend

  • G. Din
    Apr 2, 2011 - 1:54AM

    @pakpinoy:
    “…Not to overly offend my Indian friends here, but without question I am treated with more hospitality and respect in Pakistan than I am in India — really not much comparison.”

    Please tell us how many anti-American demonstrations with “Death to America” as the main theme, were you welcomed with in India

    “Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
    But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. “

    Sorry for the wounds, Friend!Recommend

  • pakpinoy
    Apr 2, 2011 - 2:40AM

    I posted the following about a week ago. Very unfortunately, events have played out exactly as stated below…I take no joy in this at all — it’s tragic — but the truth speaks for itself…

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/02/world/asia/02afghanistan.html?_r=1

    @Mohammad Ali Siddiqui: We don’t have to decide from this article
    and its comments…verifiable facts speak for themselves…
    killing a person(s) = terrorism :: burning a book DOES NOT = terrorism,
    but because “Muslims are so peaceful”, it certainly WILL lead to terrorism!

    Recommend

  • pakpinoy
    Apr 3, 2011 - 12:58AM

    @G. Din:
    You’ll notice my comments on Pakistan are often quite critical. I was trying to balance this with an honest assessment on how I’m received there on a personal basis…this wasn’t meant as a shot at Indians, but a compliment to my Pakistani friends. Don’t worry, the average Indian is far more hospitable than the average American, so no offense my friend!Recommend

  • Ike
    Apr 3, 2011 - 4:00AM

    It is very mild…he should be actualy told tobemuch more , I am being very civil, under such circumstance ..now where is my constitutional freedom of expression?Recommend

  • Ike
    Apr 3, 2011 - 4:10AM

    Reply (Your comment is awaiting moderation)

    It is very mild…he should be actually told to be much more; I am being very civil, under such circumstance…

    Now where is my constitutional freedom of expression?

    Are constructional rights only for the offenders?

    That is what is called flawed rules of laws, of govern Nance.
    .Recommend

  • pakpinoy
    Apr 7, 2011 - 2:33PM

    @ All:

    My posts keep being rejected for no apparent reason! There is a great article by Christine Fair in Foreign Policy Magazine. It explains the realities of the reactions to the Quran burning better than any other piece — afpak DOT foreignpolicy DOT com. Search for “Murder at Mazar”.

    The truth is hard to swallow sometimes when emotionalism and honor cloud the view…Recommend

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