Desecration of Holy Quran

Published: March 28, 2011
It is to the credit of the Muslim world that they did not succumb to Jones’ bait.  PHOTO: AFP/FILE

It is to the credit of the Muslim world that they did not succumb to Jones’ bait. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

In September of last year, Terry Jones, an attention-seeking fundamentalist Christian pastor from Florida, had the world on edge as he announced that he would be burning the Holy Quran outside his church. Coinciding as it did with the controversy over a proposal to build a mosque near Ground Zero in New York City, Jones achieved the notoriety he so clearly desired and then backed out of his plan at the last minute. This week, under considerably less media attention, Jones finally followed through with his plan.

It is to the credit of the Muslim world that they did not succumb to Jones’ bait. There were scattered protests in Pakistan over his actions but they were not attended by more than a few hundred people. After the furore over the Danish cartoons, the fear was that such protests may turn violent. Had that happened, it would have been a public relations coup for Jones and his ilk. Their intention is to show that all Muslims are irrational and violent; by killing and looting we would have given them confirmation that this is indeed the case. Now that Pakistani outrage at his puerile and offensive action has been noted, it is best to put Jones out of sight and out of mind. He feeds on attention and starving him of that will show that his actions have failed.

The Pakistani government, too, has played this in an appropriately low-key manner. Our ambassador to the US registered a protest with the American government. The US State Department also condemned Terry Jones’ action. The First Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees freedom of speech — book burning, even if the book in question is a holy book, falls under that. Asking the UN to force its member countries not to allow actions that would hurt religious sentiment would also be pointless as it would certainly be vetoed by the US. It is time to move on and show through our deeds that we are better than Terry Jones.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (28)

  • Mar 28, 2011 - 2:26AM

    Millions of Muslims have memorized the whole Quran.
    you would have to kill every Muslim in the world to destroy the Quran. it will never happen. ALLAH is all wise. and you will only inflame people who would kill everyone including muslims and children and other innocents. that pastor is worst then any so called terrorist. he basically held 100 people hostage and blackmailed the whole world. i love Islam.Recommend

  • Romana Khan
    Mar 28, 2011 - 2:44AM

    Well Said !!! His actions and those of his followers reflect their inherent bigotry…unseen otherwise. Had such an act been committed by a Muslim Imam, the furor and outrage in the American public would have been overwhelming…surprisingly, no strong reaction was witnessed amongst the civilized, logical and rational people.Recommend

  • Reza
    Mar 28, 2011 - 3:41AM

    In my opinion this man needs to see‏ ‏‎ a psychologist, Quran is a Holy book and came from God and people should respect to this book, I as a Muslim respect to other Holy book, for example chiristions Holy book and‏ ‏jewish Holy book.Recommend

  • Joseph
    Mar 28, 2011 - 7:58AM

    The death bounty from Pakistan is not exactly a voice of moderation. You are forgetting about that little detail. Recommend

  • Asad
    Mar 28, 2011 - 3:00PM

    Very Good editorial. This devil pastor needs to be ignored. We have no control over he US, so to deprive this devil of any publicity will be the biggest slap on his swine face.

    However secrilegious act should make Pakistan firm as a nation to KEEP our Blasphemy Law. So that at least in Pakistan no one can dare do such things. If Salman Taseer had been successful if repealing the blasphemy act, many devil Terry Jones would have sprung up in Pakistan also. SO KEEP the BLASHPEMY LAW intact in Pakistan, so no one dares do a sacrilegious act in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Cautious
    Mar 28, 2011 - 3:54PM

    The whole World has ignored the publicity seeking Florida pastor – everyone except for Pakistan which apparently is looking for any distraction to keep people from focusing on the continual downward spiral of Pakistan. Quit wasting time/resources on something you have no control of – last time I looked the vast majority of Pakistani’s can’t read or write – why not pay some attention to that. Never had understood how a Nation can consider itself pure and holy when most of it’s citizens can’t read the holy book they are protesting about.Recommend

  • Asad
    Mar 28, 2011 - 6:19PM

    @Cautious I am not sure if you come from a particularly ‘Burger Class’ where people cannot read the Holy Quran. But for your information MOST Pakistanis from the ordinary masses CAN read the holy Quran in Arabic. However the problem is most do not read the holy Quran’s translation to understand its meaning. Another problem is the masses do not have access to english education (ie science, maths, economics).Recommend

  • John
    Mar 28, 2011 - 6:22PM

    When did the press become the mouth piece for religious sanctity?

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    This is what the 1st amendment to the constitutions says, tried, and tested by US government, individuals, religious and non religious societies in the US.

    The UN declaration of human rights also claims essentially the same rights to humans and Pakistan is a signatory to it.

    The ET editorial board should not ask her people to ignore the Terry Jones actions, but should stimulate them to ask “Why he did this”?.

    No one gets up one morning and says that today I am going to burn ………..( publicity stunts aside)

    Please refer to the “Narcissistic civilization column. Recommend

  • Asad
    Mar 28, 2011 - 6:35PM

    I am sick and tired of the blissful portrait people like John 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 USRecommend

  • John
    Mar 28, 2011 - 9:17PM

    ” I disagree with all you say but I will defend to the death for your right to say it”

    Whatever you are saying in your comment is incorrect. Yet, the individual have a recourse under the law. There are many in the US also say no holocaust. They are not punished as in EU or in Israel.

    Idiocy is necessary in a society for intelligence to be appreciated.Recommend

  • Romana Khan
    Mar 29, 2011 - 3:06AM

    I thought the debate was on the act committed by Terry Jones…why are people critiquing Pakistan over this and that …or the literacy rate there…irrelevant. No one here is defending Pakistan or the acts committed by Tom, Dick and Harry … or Pakistan going downward or the death bounty etc etc…we are talking about literate Americans, who are very very civilized and moderate and tolerant ….yet committing a crime of bigotry…..and OH , someone said that “one doesn’t just get up and start burning up Holy Books” …you are so right, please have a look around and see how your foreign policies are effecting the Muslims around the world and ONE Billion people are not crazy either to just get up and start reacting…remove the blinders and see how your interference, desire to police the world and forceful paternalistic attitude in the name of providing protection has destroyed countries…not to mention the thousand killed and and still being killed at the hands of so called civilized, literate and moderate nation.Recommend

  • LoneRanger
    Mar 29, 2011 - 2:13PM

    The First Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees freedom of speech — book burning, even if the book in question is a holy book, falls under that.waow ….how abut burning all the hly boks never heard any ne burning bible :S it will also fall in freedom f speech category Recommend

  • rizwan wattoo
    Mar 29, 2011 - 2:41PM

    Terry Jones should be punished for burning The Holy Koran. Recommend

  • Aft@b
    Mar 29, 2011 - 10:21PM

    Terry Jones has acted purely out of self-interest and without regard for the sentiments and well-being of others. The Muslims who have not fallen into his trap by reacting irrationally are deserving of praise. Please continue to remember that peaceful protests are justified whereas violence is not.

    Though the burning of the religious book of any faith (including that of my own, The Bible) is not an illegal act in the United States, I can now understand why Muslims, especially Pakistani Muslims, are so greatly impacted by this heinous and instigative display of ignorance. Terry Jones has successfully managed to trample the egos and emotions of the affected and has added fuel to the fire of anti-americanism spreading rapidly amongst the Pakistani muslim masses due to the perception that American efforts in the region are anti-Islam, and for this he should be punished. Recommend

  • Romana Khan
    Mar 30, 2011 - 4:54AM

    Aft@b, thank you for showing understanding, None of us as Muslims, Pakistanis or not, condone violence, regardless of how strong the sentiments. Having said that, I fail to understand that in U.S you cannot utter a word against Jews or what they are doing in Palestine ( what happens to constitutional right or freedom of speech in that matter?) , yet, when it comes to Quran burning, every one is defending that idiot and his right to do that under the constitution….fine!!!…he did that…but as decent, literate and civilized society, should you not be condemning such an act?
    And speaking of Anti -Americanism amongst Pakistanis ….drone attacks have killed more civilians in Pakistan than the militants…not to mention the fact that Taliban were created by U.S to fight Russians and dismantle U.S.S.R at the time…and Pakistan fought that war for U.S …which aided in U.S becoming the super power and the super-police of the world…and as soon as the U.S achieved that super-power status, Pakistan was abandoned and left to deal with the biggest concentration of Afghan refugees in the history of the world…and to deal with multitude of other serious problems which emerged as a result of siding with U.S…being carried on till this day.
    We, as Pakistanis have never been able to get rid of American interference and incompetent rulers…the day we are able to do that…things will improve. Until then, leave us alone.Recommend

  • Aft@b
    Mar 30, 2011 - 10:30PM

    @Romana Khan:
    Romana, I know that the majority of muslims do not condone violence, I never stated to the contrary. But there is irrefutable evidence that many individuals due to having been indoctrinated with a distorted version if Islam, have performed numerous acts of extreme violence. By no means am I suggesting that Muslims are innately predisposed to doing so, nor have i stated that they’re the only ones to have ever done so. The point i made, or atleast attempted to make, in my previous comment is that given the already strained situation in Pakistan, the emotional alienation and antagonism that results from such actions, i.e. the unintentional killing of non-combatants by drone attacks and Terry Jones’ blatantly provocative desecration of the Quran, can prove to be the last unbearable straw that may very well cause some emotionally affected and impressionable individual, or group of individuals, with little or nothing to loose, to fall prey to the manipulation of others and commit a “retaliatory” act, or acts, of violence. Therefore, I share your opinion regarding the source behind the increase in anti-americanism. For this reason, and for his irreverence and sacrilegious scum-baggery, I condemned him, as have many others in US. As for why you’re not seeing comments with stronger condemnatory content, I accredit that to the cultural differential between the east and the west.
    The concept, ubiquitous in eastern societies, of showing “physical” reverence to holy books, does not exist anymore in western societies, for the most part. For example, you’ll find people keeping the Bible on the floor while attending church, but you’ll never find a muslim keeping the Quran on the floor. Due to this variance in perception and thinking people in the West feel that Muslims are over-reacting to this incident while Muslims feel that Westerners are deliberately showing disregard to their feelings. Had there been a greater degree of awareness here you would’ve heard a lot more voices supporting you.

    There is no doubt that previous American policies in the Af-Pak region were short-sighted, the American government and military have owned up to this fact. I also in agree with you that Pakistan has suffered enormously due to the negative fallout resulting from US policy failures. And yes the country seems to produce politicians only of the highest level of ineptitude, but complete American disinvolvement is not a solution to Pakistan’s problems. The partnership between the two countries needs to be strengthened, and Pakistan’s interests need to be considered of equal importance to American interests in that region. Only then will Pakistan achieve it’s true potential.Recommend

  • Romana Khan
    Mar 31, 2011 - 6:24PM

    Aft@b, thank you, I totally understand your viewpoint on the mindset and religious variance between the East and the West and the degree of importance placed on the sanctity of religion, however, I fail to understand the hypocrisy displayed by many when it comes to Islam and Muslims. Also, the acts of terror committed by some Muslims as you mentioned correctly, are absolutely heinous but reactions to actions committed against their nations…unless you convince me that Muslims are plain crazy and just get up and randomly commit those crimes for fun, I refuse to believe that their actions are a result of indoctrination of the distorted version of Islam…it may be a distorted version of getting even but nothing more. I am sure that many non-Muslims have educated themselves on the internet version of Islam and through the fake versions of online books of hadiths and by some amateurs who have decided to become experts on Islam and etc etc …which really does nothing more than take them away from real understanding of Islam. To understand any religion for that matter, one requires a true scholarship, years and years of research and the familiarity with the language of the book…not education through media.
    My problem with the West demonizing the Islamic world is that they have forgotten that it was them who were guilty of colonization and apatheid which spread from one to another corner of the world…only them who deployed the nuclear bomb, not to mention the on-going policy of interference in the Middle East in particular…Are we to conclude then, that their religion christianity condoned that?
    You think that their past and present foreign policies are inconsequential?
    As far as the Pakistani leadership is concerned, FYI , our political elite is not the choice of the people neither do we lack in the ability and the intellect amongst our people…it’s the BIg Boss naming the U.S, who decides who will be placed or removed from the government.
    Having said all that, as Pakistanis and as Muslims we should also take the ownership of our problems and collectively work together to change things.Recommend

  • Aft@b
    Apr 1, 2011 - 2:40AM

    @ Romana Khan:
    Romana, there is no hypocrisy against Islam. The constitution of the United States allows Americans of the Islamic faith the same rights as it does to Americans of other religions. However, the events that have occurred in the U.S. and around the world during the past decade or so have severely tainted the image of Muslims in the eyes of the larger American populace. Bear in mind that there are sincere rapprochement efforts being made but it will take time to undo the damage.
    While no one can deny that Western civilizations have committed crimes against humanity for the sake of colonization and imperialism the same can be said of eastern colonizers and imperialists. The desire to conquer is a characteristic present among both sides, its just that the West has done a better job at it. But of all the peoples wronged by the West why is it that only certain members of the Islamic faith have chosen to take the path of violence in retaliation? It is because they’ve been indoctrinated with a version of Islam that “justifies” the use of violence when seeking vengeance. One can dwell upon the past, or one can choose to learn from it and move forward in a constructive manner.
    In today’s world of globalization, where there’s an increasing convergence of interests between nations, it makes more sense to invest in developing the economy, human-capital, and infrastructure of one’s country in order to achieve prosperity and prominence in a peaceful way, rather than resorting to arcane tactics of warfare, asymmetrical or otherwise. I know full well that Pakistanis are not lacking in comparison to anyone else when it comes to talent and intellect. But it is the political elite of the country, and not the U.S., who while filling up their own coffers have held back prosperity in Pakistan to facilitate their exploitation of the citizens of the country. But if the concerned, competent and capable citizens of Pakistan would solidify their resolve to rise above their troubles nothing can hold them back.

  • abuwajeeh hashmi
    Apr 1, 2011 - 8:21PM

    Rightly said, we do not succumb to Mr Terri’s bait .We feel pity on his and the mindset of American Christian community.How come the US administration can remain aloof to such an important happening. It shows their myopic stratagem , lack of resolve to strengthen inter-faith harmony and extremist approach. Recommend

  • Romana Khan
    Apr 2, 2011 - 8:38AM

    Aft@b, thank you for your response.
    Is it a deliberate omission on your part to ignore American foreign policies prior to and post 9/11 in Middle East? Can you really not see what is happening in Palestine? Or utter destruction of Iraq is just but a little mistake after the failure to find the weapons of mass destruction? Do you really think that owning up to their failed policies e.g. in Pakistan at the cost of destabilizing the country is a minor judgment error on the part of U.S. which can be corrected by saying sorry???? The “sorry” which is generously employed when Pakistani soldiers and other civilians die at the hands of “friendly foes” meaning the American soldiers, quite routinely…and don’t forget that on the other side, the Pakistani scientist, MIT graduate, Dr Afia Siddiqui was given a life sentence for allegedly raising a rifle and trying to kill an American soldier…such a polarity when it comes to valuing a human…an American versus a Muslim.
    I absolutely agree that we, as Muslims, are to a degree responsible for our woes and we need to move forward, unite and strengthen …and until and unless we develop the relations of bilateral interest with the Western nations…relationship of dependence will not solve anything. Recommend

  • Aft@b
    Apr 3, 2011 - 11:09PM

    @Romana Khan:
    The justification given for the on-going wars in the middle-east is based on the security interests of the West. Negativity is the product of a misalignment between “hopes” and reality. One should expect the West to enact policies in accordance with its personal interests.

    Upon looking at the current situation from a point of neutrality its clear to see that the East is at an enormous military disadvantage in comparison to the West and lacks the unity that exists between western nations. Therefore, outright military confrontation between the two sides is not even an option for the East. The only thing an insurgency style resistance will accomplish is to make possible the perpetuation of the cycle of violence, leading to further destabilization of Western occupied lands. While the consequences of not understanding this are and will continue to be disastrous for the people of the East, the solution, though not easy to execute, is clear to see.

    Cohesive and relentless efforts must be made to purge the Muslim world from extremism and the disseminators of radicalism, government institutions should be strengthened and the education of eastern populations while improving and growing eastern economies must be made the core issue of the rebuilding effort. Aafia Siddiqui, being an MIT graduate, should have realized this.Recommend

  • Romana
    Apr 5, 2011 - 6:03PM

    Aft@b I agree with your analysis of the situation of Pakistan from the neutrality point of view. Leaving the extraneous factors aside, there are many internal issues that have peaked in the last few years. I will digress here a little, as a Pakistani, I feel utterly disgusted and ashamed at the killing of anyone who differed in faith or opinion and it stands in stark contradiction to the real tenets of Islam. People of all faiths, backgrounds and sects should have the protection, security and freedom to practice their religion and enjoy the privileges that are granted to other Muslim citizens in Pakistan. But, remember, that the extremism that you speak of, is only reflective of very small percentage of people, who I as a Pakistani and a Muslim, have never met or seen. Who and where these people who committ these crimes against all have come from, exploding bombs inside the Mosques and killing people indiscrimnately on daily basis in Pakistan, beats me and many others in Pakistan. The term hijacked is totally applicable when it comes to Islam…because I do feel that some people who claim to be Muslims, have taken things out of context from the Quran, and used it as an allibi to carry on despicable acts and the rest of the world quite willingly buys it and start lambasting Islam, which does nothing more than also provoke the regular Muslims who have NOTHING to do with this violence.
    Again, who these so called Muslims are…no one knows…foreign agents, spies, local people sold for money to serve foreign interests to destabilize the country…who knows…all speculation…but what is not a speculation is that many countries, especially the west and those who are aligned with them are to gain from the detabilization of Pakistan.
    We, as Pakistanis have to wake up and put our differences behind to ensure our survival.Recommend

  • Aft@b
    Apr 6, 2011 - 12:07AM

    Agreed. Good debate:-)Recommend

  • Aft@b
    Apr 6, 2011 - 12:57AM

    Well, agreed for the most part.Recommend

  • Aft@b
    Apr 6, 2011 - 1:54AM

    Pakistan has never been in direct opposition to the West so the idea of deliberate western destabilization of Pakistan seems highly unlikely to me since it’s unwarranted.Recommend

  • Romana Khan
    Apr 6, 2011 - 5:26AM

    Thank you, I hope this debate served some purpose, if nothing else then only to teach people how to differ and disagree in an agreeable manner without insulting each other. Recommend

  • Romana Khan
    Apr 6, 2011 - 6:07PM

    Correct, no direct opppsition from the ruling lot atleast on the surface but from the populace who always found it difficult to digest its blatant favourtism and partiality towards Israel at the expense of palestinian bloodshed and giving a blind eye to Kashmir issue and never supporting Pakistan during the two wars fought with India. And why did the populace expected support from them, in partcicular from the U.S, because Pakistan has always done their bidding and still is…Taliban problem is their doing and creation. Also, Pakistan’s nuclear program has never sat well with the West, being the only Islamic country to possess it so far…not to mention its strategic geographical location…gateway to the pipelines. I am surprised at your oblivion to these facts…Recommend

  • Aft@b
    Apr 8, 2011 - 2:21AM

    @Romana Khan:
    While the majority of Americans support Israel’s right to exist it does not mean that they desire the destruction of the Palestinian nation. The public, though not intimately familiar with the complexities of the issue, desires the peaceful coexistence of both Israel and Palestine, and rightfully so. If you feel that public opinion is partial towards Israel and undeservedly negative towards Palestine it has much to do with the actions of the Palestinian militants. The image of an AK-47 wielding / bearded / middle-aged hi-jacker will never sit well with the American public. But the concept of a disciplined military backed by a democratically elected government is much easier to swallow. You might say that the western media intentionally portrays the Palestinians in a negative manner, but its not the case. Can you tell me of even one prominent media-friendly Palestinian leader who has spoken coherently and logically for the rights of the people of Palestine on the world stage? I know I can’t think of one, and the reason for that is because their corrupt and selfish leadership is more interested in building their personal palaces than finding a solution to the conflict and improving the lives of their people. Either that or they’re simply incapable of conducting effective international mass communications.

    Coming to the Kashmir issue, the majority of Americans aren’t even aware of the conflict much less have an opinion about it. Though the dispute is a regional one it has had a global impact. But it is up to India and Pakistan to find the solution to the problem, the U.S cant impose its verdict on either of them. 

    As for not assisting Pakistan during its wars with India, you must realize that the goal of American foreign policy is the promotion of American interests globally. As America is strategically interested in both Pakistan and India providing military assistance to one side and not the other would be self-defeating. 

    The militarization and weaponization of the Taliban was a joint U.S. – Pak effort during the Soviet-Afghan war. But Pakistan continued to support the Taliban after the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan, granted that it had no other option than to do so. 

    The U.S. has portrayed implicit approval of the Pakistani nuclear program. Don’t forget that Pakistan’s first atomic reactors were provided by the U.S. and that Canada built Pakistan’s first civil nuclear power plant.Recommend

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