International Burn-a-Quran Day: A Test for Freedom, Tolerance and Responsibility

by Raza Habib Raja

Due to the proposed “Burn a Quran Day” by Pastor Terry Jones, Muslim world is once again under scrutiny and for reasons pertaining to  their faith and extraordinary reverence they attach to it. However, it is not just the Muslims, but the USA’s democracy and its ideals of freedom of action which are also under the critical microscope. The world has become a strange place and in this environment of deep polarization and mistrust even the action of a previously obscure Pastor can light the fuse.

But even more important than the issue of burning are the underlying questions which need to be addressed both by Islamic and the Western World.

Some of these questions are deeply philosophical and challenge our current understanding of ideals like freedom of expression and ethnic sensitivity. Some of the questions pertain to the extreme sensitivity of the Muslims and their more than necessary response.

First, let us evaluate the most burning question which is deeply philosophical as well and that is use of freedom particularly when it is apparently protected by constitution. Constitutional liberty enshrined in the Bills of rights is an extraordinary innovation which has been one of the factors which over two centuries has made USA a bastion of individual liberty. Obviously this freedom comes with several strings (one being that one cannot incite violence). However, this is not the first time that the “cover” of the first amendment is being used to incite hatred in a symbolic way against religious, ethnic or religious community.

The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear in several landmark rulings that speech deemed offensive to many people, even a majority, cannot be suppressed by the government unless it is clearly directed to intimidate someone or incite violence. The incitement exception comes from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), where the Court held that a Ku Klux Klan’s leader’s speech did not incite violence. The opinion said that “the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”( Source http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org).

In fact the legal opinion is that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution will protect Pastor, in the same way it allows the Ku Klux Klan to burn crosses and for protesters to torch the American flag.

Despite everything the US court system is likely to persist in its current interpretation of the first amendment. Moreover, despite misuses Bills of rights and its amendments uphold individual liberty and protection of minority against the hegemony of majority. In addition the courts have been pretty consistent across various cases and have uniformly decided that unless speech or action directly incites violence, it cannot be prohibited. And Muslims should not forget that the Mosque near Ground Zero is also protected by the SAME First amendment. For that matter, all the Muslims know that if tomorrow some Muslim tries to burn Bible, he too will not be prohibited by law because according to interpretation that act won’t be construed as inciting violence against Christians.  

And the irony here is that if anything, what the Pastor will do will not incite against Muslims but by them!!! In fact if US law is applied in real letter and spirit than the bans may actually be imposed on possible “protest” speeches and action by the Muslims in US as these are far more likely to incite violence.

And that violence will not be limited to USA but will endanger even US troops and citizens everywhere. In fact the fear of possible repercussions has even invited condemnation by General Gen. David Petraeus who told the media. “It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems”.  Senator Hillary Clinton has also voiced condemnation and the list of high profile heavyweights condemning the pastor is growing.

The issue it seems is not that USA is insensitive to Muslim concerns as is clear by such high level condemnations but rather is the fundamental question of more than necessary Muslim response. It is clear that in USA the rule of law, by and large, overrides everything and therefore the maximum the Executive can do in this situation is to make a plea to an old Pastor to show responsibility. They are already doing that. The central issue for the US is about making  a previously obscure Pastor understand that freedom comes with a responsibility.

There is still a possibility that US may be able to devise a legal way out of it and prevent this from happening. In law there are ways and methods to do so. However much bigger issue will remain unaddressed.

Frankly much bigger issue whether we Muslims agree or not, pertains to our own reaction. What really bothers me is that we Muslims always allow ourselves to be swept away by such incidences. Despite clearly knowing the limitations of the US government some of the even educated Muslims have this tendency to express misplaced anger and worst still actually provoke others. What we always forget is that we due to our own excessive sentimental and extremist behavior actually encourage such incidences. In fact the previous “draw Muhammad day” on Facebook was done more to actually show defiance to excessive threats by Muslim zealots.  

I am amazed that right now so less of us get angered on far more sinister acts perpetuated by Taliban monsters. In fact our anger is so misplaced that those who are killing us can potentially use this incidence for their sinister aims. Moreover, literally every time our excessive reaction gives far more projection to the event than it would have received had we just simply ignored it. We made Salman Rushdie a superstar and may well be in the process of making Mr. Terry Jones internationally famous (in fact he already has become!!!) Our reactions always end up creating sympathies for the original culprits as our excessive and completely irresponsible response complete pales their share of irresponsibility.

50 Comments

Filed under Islam, Law, minorities

50 responses to “International Burn-a-Quran Day: A Test for Freedom, Tolerance and Responsibility

  1. Tilsim

    The ‘pastor’ may be inciting violence in the confines of his miniscule Florida church. However, it is modern technology, the media and the laws that are massively fanning the flames. The pastor is using the tools that are available to him for propaganda purposes with spectacular effect. We have General Petraeus, Hilary Clinton and now the Vatican commenting on his actions. Most probably people who are alive at this minute may die on the other side of the planet as a result of the passions that he ignited.

    Reasonable men have to study closely at the way where such a local piece of news can result in creating a totally distorted impression to the wider world and lead to a dangerous changing of attitudes.

    The US first amendment is a noble idea and piece of legislation. However as currently interpreted it may be getting a little out of date. In the 21st century with it’s massive technological and media power, is unfettered freedom of speech still appropriate if it destroys the peace of the world? We need to start thinking about this on an emergency basis.

  2. Tinker

    The “I will become violent unless you shut up” is not a good basis to judge First Amendment rights, even in the 21st century with its internet and media.

    Terry Jones needs to understand that while he has a constitutional right to do something, he ought not to do it. Instead he should give away the Quran copies he has collected to a mosque or to a Muslim organization.

    The constructive response to a Quran-burner could be that for each copy burnt, a thousand new ones will be printed and distributed for free.

  3. tilsim1

    @ Tinker

    “The constructive response to a Quran-burner could be that for each copy burnt, a thousand new ones will be printed and distributed for free.”

    I agree but the world is not a liberal place. We have to face the reality of the psychological impact such news has on the majority.

  4. Salman Arshad

    @Tilsim
    “is unfettered freedom of speech still appropriate if it destroys the peace of the world?”

    The First Amendment was meant to be a statement against such a stance to begin with.. as a denouncing measure against those responsible for “destroying the peace of the world” ..

    Just like the First Amendment, we should all be very clear about who to point at regarding “destroying the peace of the world” ..

    I think the you are wrongly pointing the finger at the First Amendment for being responsible.. in fact the First Amendment is already pointing at the trouble makers and taking a principled stance against them.

  5. Feroz Khan

    All international politics in the twenty-first century is local. Local politics, due to the reach of the modern media, have a potential to influence events in far off places.

    The First Amendment may be an American constitutional right, but what we are looking at in a real sense through this event, is the development of an international constitutional code of rights.

    The days of the nation-state and their sovereignty are gone and the world, we live in, is slowly but constantly moving towards a trans-internationalism, where national laws will be replaced by an international laws. These laws, will not guide relations between nations, as much as govern them.

    There is no other way to prevent an act in Florida creating mayhem in Lahore. All nations, for the sake of public safety, will have to agree to one code of behavior regulating a peaceful co-existence in the global village.

    ciao

  6. tilsim1

    @ Salman Arshad

    “I think the you are wrongly pointing the finger at the First Amendment for being responsible..”

    I was not saying that the First Amendment is responsible for the destruction of peace. I am just wondering about the unfettered part. An unsavoury character in a small church does something outrageous and people feel the world over’s attitudes are affected by this – all due to the power of media to convey the images and speeches instantly and laws that allow them to do so (not just the First Amendment of course). Very quickly it degenerates into muslims are terrorists or their sympathisers; all christians are muslim haters. Shall we stand by and just watch this happen or should the response be something different – including looking at our understanding of the right to make or receive hate speech? The peace of the world is at stake – nothing less.

  7. tilsim1

    The propaganda is also totally imbalanced because of the way 24 hour news works. We only rarely get to hear about the Hindu or Christian who said great things about Prophet Mohammed, the Quran or did great things for Muslims. The same truth holds the other way round too – Muslims doing/saying great things about Hindus/Christians etc. Such people of course exist in far greater numbers but have next to no dramatic news value. Extremist views and happenings are increasingly painting a distorted picture of the world on our TV screens and the internet; the danger is that these views become our new mainstream reality.

  8. tilsim1

    @ Feroz
    “The First Amendment may be an American constitutional right, but what we are looking at in a real sense through this event, is the development of an international constitutional code of rights. ”

    Interesting. Nations may well be forced to move that way as the mayhem gets truly unbearable (not just this event) but we are a long way away from that. I doubt that the US will ever want it’s constitution or laws to be fettered until a domestic consensus for change is reached. We are after all talking about the first amendment. Given that the average American is quite isolated from the concerns of the rest of the world, I doubt that the US will participate in any international constitutional code of rights anytime soon.

  9. libertarian

    @Feroz Khan: The days of the nation-state and their sovereignty are gone and the world, we live in, is slowly but constantly moving towards a trans-internationalism, where national laws will be replaced by an international laws.

    Agree with the trans-nationalism trend. Disagree with the internationalizing law part of it. Who’s going to enforce those laws? Something short of law will fill the need – bilateral and multilateral treaties maybe. Laws are too threatening and binding – no-one in the US wants pesky Euro-trash suing them for f**king up the environment?

    On a related note, it would be interesting if someone files a class-action suit against the car, oil, and aircraft companies for the Pakistan floods of 2010. I suspect the US EPA would counter-sue – they’ve already bared their teeth.

    Oh – on the Quran-burning thingee – Grow Up.

  10. Raza Raja

    For me the issue is less with first amendment but more with responsibility on both the sides. While i seriously condemn Terry Jones, but frankly Muslim response is always highly exaggerated. In fact far more sinister things do not evoke reaction at all from majority of the Muslim world.

    First amendment is their law and they are likely to uphold it even if Bible is burnt. the central question is that WE GET SO AGITATED over something which a stupid guy is doing in US.

    For that matter US administration is widely condemning him. They may eventually even stop him forcefully but the real issue remain unaddressed and that is our irrational response which ends up giving far more projection to the event than it is necessary.

  11. Yasir Qadeer

    Extremists exist on both sides, nobody denied that ever. But this is a test for liberals and rational minds on both sides. They must advocate lessons of tolerance among their people.

  12. D Asghar

    Raza Bhai,

    I said it earlier, all these antics, whether Rushdie, Cartoon thing, desecrating the Holy Book is actually done for provocation.

    Our misguided people always take these baits. Everyone knows that this is no message to “radical Islam.” This is an act of a radical cleric inciting other radicals to respond radically. Go figure.

    The truth is that a book of Quran may be burned, but luckily it resides in many hearts, which in itself is a miracle. You will see this event will come and go, in the end it will not impact one Muslim adversely. It may actually be a turning point for many Non Muslims. As it is stated in the Holy Book, “ALLAH is best of deceivers for those who use deceit.” Regards.

  13. Raza Raja

    Yes Dasghar bhai, the Muslims have to avoid taking this bait. No one can reduce the importance of Quran by burning the piece of paper on which it is written.
    Quran is in the hearts of Muslims not merely on paper.

  14. Tilsim

    @ Raza @ D.Asghar

    Beautiful sentiments and I agree with both of you that Muslims should not take the bait. We are not worshipping pieces of paper.

    It is important that Muslims don’t let their distaste for this bigot radicalise their general outlook. I am switching over the channel when any bigotry is on display on 24 hour news so that my children don’t have their views of Islam or non-muslims coloured.

    However forebearance only goes so far. There is much more to this type of provocation – it is meant to deliberately distort muslims and non-muslims views of each other. Note all the carefully placed images of ‘Islam is of the devil’. This is not the work of an amateur. It might have little effect on liberal and sophisticated minds but we should not forget that for most of the US and the world it is still a long journey before liberal values are entrenched. We can’t sit on the sidelines and just watch haters and immoderate people on both sides bring everyone to fisty cuffs.

    Unfettered Freedom of speech is a beautiful ideal but these sort of clashes are highlighting how this cherished principle is being abused by people who have no problem with bringing about a clash of civilisations.

    The principal of unfettered freedom of speech is not there to be abused. We should advocate for the checking of this abuse. It’s the prudent, fair and reasonable thing to do.

    @ Libertarian

    “Oh – on the Quran-burning thingee – Grow Up.”

    Yes, it should apply to the person provoking, the person transmitting the news and the person reacting.

    The TV channels are not simply transmitting the news, they are hyping it up too.

  15. Bishop of Lahore Mr Alexander John Malik has rightly pointed out that Pakistani Christians are not responsible for American Foreign Policy or acts of any extremist fundamentalists in Florida.

    Unfortunately common Muslim on the street of Lahore,Quetta and Peshawar doesnot understand the concept of free will and that Non-Muslims ARE NOT an Ummah.

    They will take their anger on Pakistani Christians just as they burnt Pakistani Hindus and their Temples in 1992 after the destruction of Babari Masjid,

    We the Council of Ex-Muslims condemn the planned Burning of Quran as an act of racial and religious hatred by American fundamentalists.We appose all forms of racism and religious intolerance whether from Islamic or Christian fundamentalist.

    All religious worship and belief is a matter of personal choice just as the freedom to practice (or not to practice) a religion is a universal Human Right.

  16. D Asghar

    @Exh, with all due respect, the message of Torah, Bible and Quran will remain as is. Those books are not like Almanacs, where you will get an annual edition with revision and updates.

    It is not the message. It is the distortion of the message which is an issue here. Cleansing of hearts and minds is the need of the hour on all the sides. Neither Islam supports suicides nor any terror attacks. It is crystal clear and mentioned in the Book repeatedly to remain steadfast and be cognizant of the ALMIGHTY, who is accounting every thing you do. There is an accountability ahead.

    The Holy Book is a manual so to speak. You can extract good if your intention is good or you may derive evil, if your intentions are evil. It all boils down to what are you seeking personally.

  17. Vijay Goel

    It is so heartening to note the sane voices of Muslim friends to this utterly shameless provocation.

  18. Far-right proposals to ban minarets are divisive, reactionary and in line with the ‘Clash of Civilisations’ agenda, which hands over ‘Muslims’ or those labelled as such to the political Islamic movement and denies the universality of the demand to live a life worthy of the 21st century.

    Believing in Islam or any religion for that matter is not a crime. Neither is it a crime to have minarets in mosques. What are crimes, however, are groups or individuals using religion to threaten people to death, intimidate them, violate their rights, and discriminate against them. Society has to address these crimes and prosecute those who threaten or terrorise people – not ban minarets!

    Political Islam is a political phenomenon that demands a political response. This response must include targeting the discrimination, abuse and criminal acts that take place against children in Islamic schools, against citizens in Sharia councils and tribunals, against apostates and freethinkers, gays and women who are killed in the name of honour…

    This response must demand a banning of Sharia law and Islamic schools, along with all faith-based laws and schools.

    It must exert pressure on governments to stop appeasing Islamic states and demand that such states be politically isolated.

    It must demand the prohibition of any kind of financial, material or moral support by the state or state institutions to religion and religious activities and institutions.

    It must support those who are at the forefront of fighting the political Islamic movement.

    It must demand an end to the promotion of cultural relativism.

    It must demand that religion be a private matter.

    It must call for secularism – the complete separation of religion from the state, education and legal system – as a minimum precondition for the respect of rights and freedoms in society.

    It must defend rather than restrict universal rights.

    The Enlightenment didn’t ban church towers in order to successfully push Christianity into the private sphere. The same must be done with political Islam.

    And that is what civilised humanity intends to do.

    up

  19. Arvind

    A simple question is, how would Muslims react if someone in say Pakistan announces that he would be burning the bible? How many citizens would stand up and at least protest?

  20. Maryanne Khan

    Dammit guys! There is NO justification for this senseless act on the part of this idiotic bigot. THIS IS WHERE THINGS FALL APART, THE CENTRE CANNOT HOLD. There is NO justification in regard to a bloody Christian willing to insult and provoke with the ultimate insult. . . .

  21. Even in the context of the so-called western liberal tradition it is probably hard to explain American commitment to the First Amendment, which is not merely legal but emotional and, yes, religious–in the para-religion of civic nationalism. Particularly for secular Americans, First Amendment rights are sacred and thus provoke reactions not so different at the emotional level than those provoked when any sacred symbol is attacked–if not always violent action, certainly violent feeling.

    In fact one of the reasons Pastor Jones’ action has been so widely and publicly deplored, even detested, in the United States is that the particular action, while allowed under the letter of the First Amendment, is in profound violation of its spirit in that while the Quran is for Muslims the word of God, for secular Americans, even atheists, it is something very nearly as precious–a book. To burn a book is engage in an act of negation of speech, as if the physical obliteration of symbolic content could negate the ideas represented therein.

    The First Amendment is also parochial–but as Raza points out it is the same principle that protects not only the construction of the Muslim Community Center near “Ground Zero,” but hundreds of other mosques across the country, including in places where elements of receiving communities are reluctant. That is, it protects the weak against the strong, the minority against the majority.

    It will not, of course, protect American soldiers in the field–though to be quite frank, they would be best protected by being extracted from places where they have no right to be in the first place. It will also not protect vulnerable religious minorities if they come under attack in reaction to Jones’ actions–but the parochial American legal system, like all others, does not contemplate this reality, nor will it in the imaginable future even if some less imperial states begin to take such factors into consideration.

    The planned burn a Quran day at the Dove World Outreach Center is hateful and contemptible and should be condemned by any person who is not an anti-Islamic bigot. If there is a violent reaction against Americans, or against visible Christian religious minorities in some Muslim majority countries, this is worse than the original provocation. Note I am not talking about noisy protest, about burning American flags or effigies of Pastor Jones and chanting angry slogans, but about violence against persons and property. The First Amendment is parochial; laws and standards of civility condemning mob violence and demanding the protection of the life and safety of minorities are present in virtually every nation-state.

  22. Tilsim

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

    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.

    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.””

    Mainstream christians in our part of the world are setting a great example. Speak out, dissociate yourself and do something about extremists of all religions or belief systems. This applies to people of all religions. The centre ground must hold against extremists’ senseless provocations – if we desire peaceful co-existence.

  23. Tilsim

    Sheikh Salman al-Oadah
    Fri, 08/13/2010

    “Allah is Forbearing. One of Allah’s names is al-Halīm (The Forbearing One). It follows, therefore, that Allah loves the quality of forbearance. He calls upon us to exhibit this trait and blesses us when we do so. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said to Ashajj b. Qays: “You possess two qualities that Allah loves: forbearance and patience.” [Sahīh Muslim (17-18)]

    Since Allah loves this trait so much, this is why we find that the majority of the Prophets showed almost superhuman levels of forbearance to their people.

    Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the best example of forbearance anyone could hope to find. He was abused incessantly while spreading Allah’s Message to the people.

    Once, he was forcibly driven out of a town by the idolaters at the threat of death. They cursed him and reviled him. They sneered and said things like: “Couldn’t Allah find anyone better than you to be His Messenger?” and: “I will personally rip the cloth of the Ka`bah to shreds if Allah sent you to us.”

    The angel of the mountains approached the Prophet (peace be upon him), saying: “Allah hears the things your people are saying, and your Lord has sent me to do your bidding. If you wish, I will make these two mountains fall upon them.”

    The Prophet (peace be upon him) who was in physical pain and indeed emotional stress due to the abuse he had received while being driven out, said: “No. I hope that Allah will bring forth from their children those who will worship Him alone.” [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (3231) and Sahīh Muslim (1795)]

    We should consider the reason why Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on this ocasion showed forbearance to the people who were abusing him. He did so out of compassion for them, certainly, but also for the sake of their descendants who were not yet born. We can also see his concern for the children, that they live in security and peace, and not witness instability and destruction. Many of the children of that locale would grow up to accept Islam. As for those who were not yet born at the time of the incident, they were born as Muslims and became some of Islam’s preeminent historical figures.

    When the Prophet (peace be upon him) was faced with ignorant or abusive behavior, he became all the more forbearing. On one occasion, a desert dweller came up to the Prophet (peace be upon him), yanked at his cloak, and said: “Appoint for me some of the wealth that you have.” On another, someone complained that he was unjust in distributing wealth, saying: “This way of distributing wealth is not for the sake of Allah!” This is in spite of the fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) never kept anything for himself. At the time of his death, he did not have any worldly possessions.

    As related by Anas ibn Malik, a Jewish woman offered a roasted sheep to God’s Messenger after the conquest of Khaybar. Just before he took the first morsel to his mouth, God’s Messenger stopped and told the others at the meal not to eat of it, saying: This sheep tells me that it is poisonous. Nevertheless, a Companion, named Bishr, died immediately after he took the first morsel. The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, sent for the woman and questioned her on why she tried to poison him. The woman replied:

    If you are really a Prophet, the poison will not affect you. If you are not, I wanted to save people from your evil.

    God’s Messenger forgave the woman for her conspiracy to kill him.

    If we wish for Allah to show us His forbearance, we should be forbearing to others, including our spouses, our children, those who are under our authority at work, and those who are in our employ. We should not be quick to act on anger. We should hold our tongues.

    Abū al-Dardā’, the eminent Companion, advised: “Knowledge comes through learning and forbearance comes through practicing forbearance.” This means that we can become more forbearing, regardless of what kind of temper we presently have. Forbearance and self-restraint can be learned and cultivated through practice. “

  24. Feroz Khan

    The scintilla of this crisis is the media. The 24/7 news cycle demands an endless source of news to feed its hunger for senationalism, shock, revenues and entertainment. The media creates and the media sustains and the media judges for what passes for news.

    This is a world event not because of the act of burning itself, but because of the presence of the news media outside Terry Jones’ church in Florida.

    The act may be provocative, but the reaction to it must be cool headed, responsible and not prone to creating more violence.

    This is merely a breeze compared to the hurricanes Islam has weathered in the last 1400 years of its existence and long after the pastor has slipped the mortal bounds of this earth, Islam will still be here.

    The true measure of any religion is the belief of its followers in its message and that message remains indestructible as long as the life that contains that message believes in it.

    ciao

  25. Ally

    Has our Govt. prepared for the aftermath? The police should be put on alert as you know the nmullahs will grab this opportunity to go out on the street with their rent-a-mob and destroy public property. The can protest if they want just not violently and destroy public property.

    I hope the police and rangers in our cities are prepared for the inevitable hangama that this will cause in Pakistan. The fundos are going to milk this for everything!

  26. bciv

    @Ex-Muslim

    “Unfortunately common Muslim on the street..”

    this little example is not in any way to dispute your point but just to speak for the other common muslim or non-mulsim, man or woman on the street. the old temple in tando allah yaar was destroyed by hooligans in the aftermath of the demolition of babri masjid. the people of tando allah yaar, muslims and hindu together, built a temple 5 times bigger in the same place. perhaps, someone sometimes needs to speak for and of these common people too.

  27. Tilsim

    @ Stephen Gardiner

    “Particularly for secular Americans, First Amendment rights are sacred and thus provoke reactions not so different at the emotional level than those provoked when any sacred symbol is attacked–if not always violent action, certainly violent feeling.”

    This is understandable. However, I am wondering if the news networks are at all justified in transmitting the news of this event.

    It’s not international news, unless the media and politicians make it front page international news. Are they acting responsibly?

    Some soul searching needed given the new challenges being thrown up by technology and 24 hour news channels.

  28. Raza Raja

    @Maryanne Khan

    I agree there is absolutely no justification for the pastor. I am not at all trying to justify him at all. However the central point is that while we condemn this we have to understand that US law is some what beyond our control but our own actions are.
    I hope that US government finds a legal way out to wriggle out of this mess

  29. Tilsim

    One other thing I will say is that when fundamentalist muslims burnt copies of the Satanic verses, most people in the West were repulsed by it and had strong feelings about it. In this case it is a planned burning of the Quran, so the anger of Muslims should be understood by people in the West. However violence and resulting prejudice cannot in any way be justified and should be prevented by all well meaning Muslim people.

  30. Tinker

    The burning of books is in general offensive in the West, and is not holy book specific.

  31. Tilsim

    @Tinker

    “The burning of books is in general offensive in the West, and is not holy book specific.”

    As I was growing up, my grandmother, a traditional muslim lady, would not let me put any books on the floor because she said this was disrespectful. I am not sure what she would have made of book burning..it would have been quite outside her reality.

  32. libertarian

    @Tilsim: 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.

    Ha ha ha. Self-serving drivel. Same f**kers were murdering millions till Western society forcibly separated church and state – and split the church. Now they’re all peacenik and kumbayah. Same logic applies to today’s mullahs. Here’s a message for all the God Fanboys and Fangirls: Get the f**k back in the closet! Oh, and take your “Books” with you.

  33. Salman Arshad

    @Tilsim

    The Law should ALWAYS stand for the principled stance.. like the First Amendment does..

    What we all are generally supporting is in reality “political correctness” .. Law should never be politically correct..

    So we must have Law that gives those unfettered powers of speech..

    What is lacking is good strong politics .. “irresponsibility” might be a better word ..

    Note that when we talk about “responsibility”, it is always about “how” one uses their power..

    A parallel to today’s unfettered powers used to rest with kings and monarchs ruling people once .. But history has clear examples of those who used those powers “responsibly” and those who didn’t..
    If a monarch was corrupt or brutal or unjust, it did not mean that there should not be any monarchs with unfettered powers.. simply having “unfettered powers” was never to be blamed..

    We have to socially and politically demand responsibility.. from both sides.. and responsible behavior from even one side will take care of the matter very easily… media is available to everyone for that..

  34. Tilsim

    @ Salman Arshad

    “So we must have Law that gives those unfettered powers of speech.. ”

    Well, certainly that is the case in the USA. However the law varies in different Western countries which have a high regard for free speech. In Europe it’s a crime to deny the holocaust in many countries.

    Across the US border in Canada, blasphemous libel is an indictable offence under section 296(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada. It is punishable by up to 2 years in prison.

    There is a defence in both Canada and New Zealand where: “It is not an offence against this section to express in good faith and in decent language, or to attempt to establish by arguments used in good faith and conveyed in decent language, any opinion whatever on any religious subject.”

    With hate speech on the increase, is it appropriate that the government’s only weapon for a specific situation is an appeal to reason? It seems at odds with the US’s high emphasis on internal security.

    In this instance, it would be great if the networks were behaving responsibly but they are not. CNN has this as front page news for instance on their website. They are promoting a sense of hysteria through blowing the importance of this out of proportion. They are not accountable other than to their audience. We also have to recognise that most media networks have their political biases so it’s difficult to expect responsible behaviour from them unless they all agree to a code of practice for a situation like this in the wider public interest.

  35. abdul

    i am disgusted by USA and this ” burn the qurran day” as we don’t see Muslims making up days to burn cristons bible and Jewish Torah as we respect each and every religion as it is written in the quran so why is people fowling a uniformed man who claims he never even read the qurran

  36. Tinker

    Tilsim:

    Apparently in the past several months there have been anti-Muslim incidents in Terry Jones’s area of Florida, including a pipe-bomb; so when Terry Jones made his announcement, the local media thought it had to be covered, it could not be ignored.

  37. Maryanne Khan

    It’s been called off, thank goodness! Eid Mubarak everyone!

  38. Mustafa Shaban

    Eid Mubarak every1!

    @Maryanne Khan: I heard it was called off too! Glad that happened

    We had some great comments on this one!

    Is it confirmed that its called off?

  39. Bade Miya

    Tilsim,
    “As I was growing up, my grandmother, a traditional muslim lady, would not let me put any books on the floor because she said this was disrespectful.”

    That made me smile and reminded me of my mom. I wonder if that was due to some Hindu influence.

  40. due

    to abdul

    When muslims say that they respect all religions then such statements are only lip-service.

    In reality they don’t. They only want to pressurize non-muslims by pretending that muslims respect all religions.

  41. Tilsim

    @Bade Miya

    May be it was🙂

  42. Tilsim

    @ Tinker

    “Apparently in the past several months there have been anti-Muslim incidents in Terry Jones’s area of Florida, including a pipe-bomb; so when Terry Jones made his announcement, the local media thought it had to be covered, it could not be ignored.”

    Thanks for the additional insight. If there is a link proved between this church and incidents of violence perhaps it will make it easier for the authorities to deal with him.

    Terry Jones linked his plans to the Ground Zero mosque controversy which has added further media fuel. He is proving quite a master at playing the media and getting every politician to comment, big and small.

    Eid Mubarak to all!

  43. Pingback: Global Voices in English » South Asia: Bloggers On Burn A Qur’an Day

  44. Pingback: US Church plans to burn Quran's...Petraeus says don't be stupid

  45. Hameed

    Channel 4: Interfaith meeting against Quran Burning

  46. Rashid Saleem

    The whole controversy of burning a Quran was created by an extremist. Ideologies are not limited to geographical, cultural or religious boundaries. The lesson to learn here is the way issue was handled by a liberal and rational government. We need to apply the same theory here and defeat the extremists with the same spirit.

  47. moniems

    Why not just laugh at the foolishness of that stupid and unknown pastor Terry Jones?

    If we could do that, no one will ever indulge in such actions. Getting angered brings us no respect.