Christian community protests burning of the Holy Quran

Published: September 9, 2010
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Protesters shout slogans as they burn the U.S. flag during a protest in Multan on September 9, 2010. PHOTO: REUTERS

Protesters shout slogans as they burn the U.S. flag during a protest in Multan on September 9, 2010. PHOTO: REUTERS

Protesters shout slogans as they burn the U.S. flag during a protest in Multan on September 9, 2010. PHOTO: REUTERS Dove World Outreach Center church pastor Terry Jones addressing a press conference in  Gainesville, Florida. PHOTO: REUTERS

GAINESVILLE: The Christian community in Lahore protested against the proposal of a Florida church to burn copies of the Holy Quran.

Hundreds of Christians gathered outside the Lahore Press Club on Thursday and staged a protest against the plan.

They raised slogans against the authorities of the church and burned an effigy of the pastor.

Addressing the protestors, leaders of the Christian community said the Holy Books have descended from God and show the right path to humanity, it is the moral duty of every person to protect the Holy Books and pay respect to them.

The leaders said they will support Muslims in raising their voice for the honour of the Holy Quran.

Church defiant

The Church shrugged off global outrage and vowed to go ahead with a Quran burning ceremony amid growing fears it will ignite a wave of Islamic rage.

Condemnation rained down from top US officials, the military, the Vatican and other religious and world leaders, but the church refused to halt plans to torch the Islamic holy book on Saturday’s anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“As of this time we have no intention of canceling,” Pastor Terry Jones told a press conference here Wednesday, adding his evangelical church, the Dove World Outreach Center, had received numerous messages of support.

Jones had indicated he was praying for guidance on whether to go ahead with the incendiary event after warnings from US Afghanistan commander General David Petraeus that US and allied troops could be targeted in revenge.

“We understand the general’s concerns and we are still considering it,” Jones said, but swiftly added he had been contacted by a special forces soldier who told him “the people in the field are 100 percent behind us.”

After his press conference Wednesday, Jones reportedly met inside his church with a Florida imam, in a sign that the renegade pastor might be willing to tone down or even cancel his event.

According to the Gainesville Sun, the imam of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, Muhammad Musri, met with Jones for 40 minutes in the pastor’s office.”I told him the world would admire your courage if you come out and say, ‘Because of my devotion to Christ and the Bible, I’m going to do the right thing.'” the Sun quoted Musri as saying.”I strongly believe at the end of the day that he is going to make the right step and call off this event.”

The gun-toting pastor, who has received death threats, says the aim of Saturday’s three-hour evening event is to send a message to religious extremists.

“Our burning of the Quran is to call attention that something’s wrong. And it is possibly time for us in a new way to actually stand up and confront terrorism,” he said. The planned torching of some 200 Qurans — many of which have been donated to the church — comes amid an angry debate over plans to build an Islamic cultural center in New York close to where the World Trade Center once stood.

Many fear if the Quran burning goes ahead it will further raise anti-Islamic sentiment.

Condemnations from Pakistan

President Zardari has condemned the Church’s plans to burn the Holy Quran and said that the activity will trigger a massive reaction from the Muslim world.

Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik has written a letter to Interpol Secretary General and strongly condemned the planned actions of Pastor Terry Jones to burn copies of the Holy Quran.

In his letter, the Federal Interior Minister said the desecration of the holy book will not be tolerated at any cost.

He urged the Secretary General Interpol to take strong action on the matter and asked Interpol to take up the matter with US officials.

Malik stated that Jones’ actions will be an international crime which will be detrimental to peace internationally. He also stated that the sentiments of Muslims should not be hurt with such vicious actions.

Foreign Office spokesperson Abdul Basit has also assailed the plans of the US church to burn the Holy Quran.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani has warned that if Florida Pastor Terry Jones goes ahead with his plans to burn copies of the Quran, it will set off a massive reaction in parts of the Muslim world.

The ambassador asserted that the United States should live up to its high ideals. He added that those who oppose religious extremism and intolerance in the Muslim world should speak up against what he termed a meaningless gesture.

India calls for a media blackout

India called Thursday for the US to take “strong action” to prevent a planned Quran burning ceremony and demanded a media blackout.

Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram, in a strongly worded statement after a cabinet meeting, condemned the “deplorable act” that was “obviously calculated to increase bitterness and strife between religious groups.

“We hope the US authorities will take strong action to prevent such an outrage being committed,” he said.

“While we await the actions of the US authorities we appeal to the media, both print and visual media, to refrain from telecasting visuals or publishing photographs of this deplorable act.”

“We should ignore such people, but there is now an added responsibility for the United States to rein them in,” Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the chief imam in New Delhi’s biggest mosque, told AFP.

“Any such act by the pastor can have serious repercussions against the administration in the US and against American troops in Afghanistan or Iraq,” he said.

The All-India Christian Council also condemned the intention of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida to burn the Quran on the anniversary of the Al-Qaeda terror network’s attacks on the United States.

“Al-Qaeda does not represent the Islamic faith and this pastor certainly does not represent the teachings of Jesus Christ,” the council’s secretary general John Dayal said in a statement.

World leaders denounce church’s plans

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has denounced the Florida church’s plans as “disgraceful,” and the State Department sought Wednesday to downplay an event likely to be shown on television screens around the world.

“We hope that the world will appreciate that this is the action of a very small fringe group and does not represent the views of the United States or Americans as a whole,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was deeply disturbed by the plans, with his spokesman releasing a statement saying: “Such actions cannot be condoned by any religion.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel decried the plans as “abhorrent” at an event honoring a Danish cartoonist whose 2005 drawing of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) sparked protests around the world.

Late Wednesday the imam of the mosque to be built near Ground Zero, Feisal Abdul Rauf, told CNN that burning the Quran is “not the right thing to do” because “it’s going to feed into the radicals in the Muslim world. It’s dangerous.”

And former Republican vice presidential candidate and leading conservative Sarah Palin slammed the move as an insensitive provocation “much like building a mosque at Ground Zero,” urging Jones to think again.

“It will feed the fire of caustic rhetoric and appear as nothing more than mean-spirited religious intolerance. Don’t feed that fire,” she wrote on her Facebook page.

Officials in the small university town of Gainesville — reluctantly dragged into the global spotlight — met Wednesday to draw up contingency plans.

City spokesman Bob Woods told AFP that church officials would be violating a ban on open-air burning and would be subject to a 250 dollar fine if they set fire to the books. But there is little they can do to stop the event from going ahead, protected as it is by the First Amendment of the US Constitution, guaranteeing freedom of speech.

Fire authorities turned down an application a few weeks ago from Jones to hold the ceremony, and police cannot intervene until they actually light the Qurans.

Condemnations have also poured in from Kuwait, Malaysia and Indonesia with leaders calling on the US to stop the event from taking place.

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Reader Comments (30)

  • Nael
    Sep 9, 2010 - 3:20PM

    This small time radical and fundamental Christian preacher has no clue of what Islam is about and what the holy Quran teaches. He seems to be a close follower of Taliban philosophy ——react with extreme might without proper understanding and knowledge. The guy is enjoying the air time and yet another way of bashing Islam. —————If government of Pakistan can be forced to take strict action against radicals in Pakistan, why cant the mighty government of USA take similar action against this fanatic.Recommend

  • Adnan Tariq
    Sep 9, 2010 - 3:36PM

    Its only gonna get worse from now on……………….Recommend

  • Maitre
    Sep 9, 2010 - 3:45PM

    It is true that Pastor Terry Jones is an eccentric personality as he was thrown out of the church during his career. Besides, his act shows that other religious ethnies are not free in US. They have reservations and concerns about their socio-spiritual identity. Two days ago, some young delinquants opened fire on a mosque in US. But if Pastor Terry Jones is allowed to proceed with his profane plans of desecrating the most scientifically Authentic Divinely Revealed Book, voices of condemnation all over the world will be directed at US administration and it’s lose citizen rights status. None in the Muslim World has ever expressed or acted upon such negative theological designs because the Muslims respect all the divinely Revealed Books.Recommend

  • Imran
    Sep 9, 2010 - 4:41PM

    This is the Same Guy who was charged with Child Pornography on August 19th and Kicked out of his own Church in Germany Recommend

  • Sep 9, 2010 - 5:26PM

    Its an intentional and very targeted move. Terry Jones is sick and certain (known) extremists are making their move behind the scene. On one hand everyone, the Government officials and resourceful influential leaders, are pretending to be un-biased but on the other hand none of them is demanding his immediate arrest before the incident. Recommend

  • Hasan
    Sep 9, 2010 - 6:41PM

    Burning of Quran: Pastor Terry Jones debunked

    Below includes an interview with Pastor Jones in which he admits he has never even read the Quran, and all other religions (Hindis, Buddhist etc) that do not believe in Jesus are also of the devil. This puts him at loggerhead with the majority of the population and religions of the world.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IUCVfsgKPoRecommend

  • carol norwell
    Sep 9, 2010 - 6:49PM

    The world is watching….Pastor Terry Jones….all I can say is you can cure ignorance, but you cant cure stupid. What you are doing is likely to cause more killing, I hope you can live with that on your concience. The fact that a soldier tells you that you have 100% support in the field..depends on him speaking to every soldier out there…not likely eh? What you are proposing to do is the equivalent of a toddler stamping their feet….that sometimes results in a slap from mom….but in this instance could result in a few hundred more deaths….now do you think its worth it? how about when they burn your bibles…? worth it? why not think on it a little longer and show your disapproval in a more productive way. Recommend

  • kamran khan baloch
    Sep 9, 2010 - 7:25PM

    Bishop of Lahore, called this minister a lunatic….!!
    In our country, christians and muslims live in peace and friendship. Pakistani christians are the best in the world … yayyyy!!! Thanks christian brothers and sisters for your principled stance…Recommend

  • Rabia Jalal
    Sep 9, 2010 - 7:54PM

    While I understand the outrage and hurt over this bigoted and infantile act of a less than holy pastor, I also feel constantly discussing this in the media is giving the event more recognition than it deserves, not unlike the infamous “Draw Mohamad Day” debacle on facebook. Recommend

  • KPMG
    Sep 9, 2010 - 7:55PM

    “In our country, christians and muslims live in peace and friendship.”

    You have got to be kidding me right? Remember Gojra or the recent unlawful killings of Christians alleged to have committed blasphemy?Recommend

  • sharifL
    Sep 9, 2010 - 8:06PM

    Christians in Pakistan do have clever heads on their shoulders. They know that pakistanis will take revenge on them. And nobody will utter a word. Burning the book is bad, but killing innocent Christians anywhere as a revenge would be far worse. All those condemning burning should promise to protect Christians in Pakistan. We live in a world which is not one way traffic. I do not see that happening, alasRecommend

  • Pakistani
    Sep 9, 2010 - 8:15PM

    @Kamran khan baloch

    In our country, christians and muslims live in peace and friendship. Pakistani christians are the best in the world … yayyyy!!! Thanks christian brothers and sisters for your principled stance…

    heh, are you kidding me? stop being a hypocrite and accept that ‘pakistani muslims’ are the most intolerant when it comes to other religions. Forget the religion, we are the most racist nation when it comes to race colour creed.. punjabi sindhi muhajir malik rajput etc etc..Recommend

  • Ali
    Sep 9, 2010 - 8:27PM

    Govt. should prepare city police for all the demonstrations etc. that will take place!Recommend

  • Imran Mohammad
    Sep 9, 2010 - 9:04PM

    An appeal to Muslims in general and Pakistanis in particular:

    Please do not waste your time with protests. Just ignore it and move on with your life. If someone hates you or your religion, its not your problem. Let him/them burn in hate. Not protesting or not setting the tires/cars/shops on fire will not diminish your faith.Recommend

  • shekhar naik
    Sep 9, 2010 - 9:47PM

    Burning of the holy book is the most stupid action by anyone. However what is also wrong is burning national flags and effigies of human beings. Can we have a better form of protest. Muslim countries have lots of US flags to burn, where do they get them from? Why does media constantly show images of flag burning with every story. Websites like Tribune can easily fix this crazy idea by not highlighting burning of anything at all as a form of protest.Recommend

  • jai
    Sep 9, 2010 - 9:53PM

    wow you protest against the burning of the quran by burning their flag. do you not see your own hypocrisy? you ask people to respect your feelings while you disrespect theirs.Recommend

  • Sep 9, 2010 - 10:05PM

    Why don’t they arrest the goddamn pastor? Are they waiting for his evil action to materialize? What the US would do if an Imam in Florida announce to burn volumes of bible? They won’t waste a second to make arrest. Recommend

  • Tariq
    Sep 9, 2010 - 10:24PM

    Agree with KPMG and Imran MohammadRecommend

  • Imran Mohammad
    Sep 9, 2010 - 10:52PM

    Why don’t they arrest the goddamn pastor? Are they waiting for his evil action to materialize? What the US would do if an Imam in Florida announce to burn volumes of bible? They won’t waste a second to make arrest.

    They can’t. It is an issue of first amendment in their constitution. Freedom of speech !!! Recommend

  • Tariq
    Sep 9, 2010 - 11:09PM

    While strongly condemning the Florida’s Church shameful act, we should also introspect ourselves.Aren’t there countless examples of Pakistani Muslims burning the holy books of Christians(http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1914750,00.html)and Hindus and burning down their places of worship, most recently in Gojra(http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/06-six-christians-die-in-riots-with-muslims-rs-05).

    The Holy Quran says to Muslims:-
    “Do not curse the idols they set up beside Allah, lest they blaspheme and curse Allah out of ignorance”–(6:108)

    I guess if we’d followed the word of God, none of this would’ve been happening.
    What you sow, so shall you reap. Recommend

  • Sep 9, 2010 - 11:15PM

    Oh! Extremists everywhere…Recommend

  • Syed A. Mateen
    Sep 9, 2010 - 11:15PM

    A mentally sick person intend to burn Quran.

    US government should arrest this mental case and put him in prison so that he should not spoil the relations among the believers of different faiths.Recommend

  • A Naheed
    Sep 9, 2010 - 11:22PM

    ‘Draw Muhammad Day’ ‘Burn the Qur’an Day’ ! such venom? Recommend

  • Ghausia
    Sep 9, 2010 - 11:51PM

    On the one hand, our fellow Pakistanis, who cares if they’re not Muslims, they’re our countrymen and they’re sticking up not just for Muslims, but for the sake of equality, they’re speaking out.

    And on the other hand, those same poor guys are routinely killed in horrific incidents such as the Gojra incident. All under the name of the most noble and glorious Blasphemy Act. Way to go Pakistan.Recommend

  • randomrandom
    Sep 10, 2010 - 4:17AM

    preemptive steps so that the local public doesnt go all sialkot over them. Recommend

  • Farhan
    Sep 10, 2010 - 5:09PM

    Christians live under the constant threat in Pakistan. How can Pakistanis forget the incident of Gojra? Who will punish the sectarian organisation whose name pop up during investigations?

    One more point:

    Why we Pakistanis are so easy going in burning the flags of other nations. If a christian man intends to burn Quran, why we want to punish all Americans by burning their flags.

    How can the acts of an individual like pastor or the philosophy of an organization like Al-qaeda represents the philosophy of the whole of Christondom or Islam?Recommend

  • Sep 10, 2010 - 10:23PM

    Basically this man is a Christian/Baptist Taliban and Americans need to start dealing with theri own terrorists and fanaticsRecommend

  • ali ahmed
    Sep 11, 2010 - 5:57AM

    bycot and jihad are only solutions to theseRecommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Sep 11, 2010 - 10:54AM

    The so called pastor Terry Jones must be a nut who needs to be tightened. I am Christian from Pakistan and also graduate in Theological Studies from a Christian Seminary. We were never taught or read any where during our studies to show hate against other religions. Love and Prayers is the message of Christ. It is not a recognized Church by any standards. We can easily find these lose cannons and scud missiles in all religions and it is the responsibility of that country to keep close watch on their activities before the world peace is shattered into pieces. I strongly condemn people of this mind set who though consider themselves to be Christians but are totally ignorant of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Holy Bible. We must not forget that we are “Cousins”, sons and daughters of Prophet Abraham so Happy Eid to my brothers and sisters where ever they live.Recommend

  • Sep 20, 2010 - 7:16PM

    the holy book was authored by the most merciful so any one who try to strike it leave him with the creator.Recommend

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