On the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, in vengeance or protest of what it calls a religion “of the devil,” The Dove World Outreach Center; a church in Gainesville, Florida, plans to host an “International Burn a Quran Day”(Nauzubillah). This anti-Muslim activism among some conservative and religious groups in US has apparently sparked after the controversy over the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan.
The Dove World Outreach Center says it is hosting the event to commemorate 9/11 victims and take a stand against Islam. With promotions on its website and Facebook page (which is not accessible in Pakistan), it invites Christians to burn the Muslim Holy book at the church from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The group also has a You Tube page and a video which claims all Muslims are unhappy. The group’s leader and controversial preacher, Pastor Terry Jones, has self-published a book entitled “Islam is of the Devil” and his church sells coffee mugs and T-shirts promoting the book’s title since 2009.
The event is creating significant abhorrence and hostility across a range of religious and cultural groupings all over the world. Muslim advocacy groups, God Believers Association (GBA) and evangelical Christian organizations alike have condemned the church for its plans.
The church has drawn condemnation and demands to cancel the event from the National Association of Evangelicals, which said in a statement that “Burn a Koran Day” shows “disrespect for our Muslim neighbors and would exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims throughout the world.”
Meanwhile in reaction to this news, a petition has also been filed in The Lahore High Court by Judicial Activism Panel (JAP) Chairman Azhar Siddique advocate, seeking permanent ban on Facebook website in the country for launching blasphemous competition against the Holy Quran. Earlier this year the Facebook website had been banned in Pakistan over “Draw Muhammad Day” controversy from 19th to 31st May 2010. The ban was lifted afterward on the assurance of the federal government, ministry of information technology, PTA and the Facebook management that such a mistake will not be allowed in future.
On the other hand, The “In Protest of ‘International Burn a Koran Day’” page on Facebook is not aligned to any religion or culture, it states,
“The mission of this group is to peacefully show opposition to the disrespect that Dove World is exhibiting towards the Muslim people” and employs a quote by the late civil rights figure Martin Luther King, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.”
CNN host Rick Sanchez invited Jones on his show to ask him about the provocative action. When Sanchez pressed Jones about why he would try to anger the world’s Muslims by burning their sacred text, the evangelical Pastor replied, “Well, for one thing, to us, the book is not sacred,”. Jones later went on to explain, “What we are also doing by the burning of the Quran, we’re saying stop, stop to Islam, stop to Islamic law, stop to brutality. We have nothing against Muslims; they are welcome in our country.” When Sanchez asked him how he would feel if Muslims burned the Bible, Jones admitted he wouldn’t like it but emphasized that it was his “right” to burn the Islamic text because “we live in America”.
Living in America means you are allowed to promote this kind of provocative insanity? which will only inflame tension sowing the seeds of hatred and the saddest part being propagated through a church. In his ethos, it’s OK to burn other peoples sacred scriptures, but not his? The American President Barack Obama is a Muslim personality and it will be a test for him to deal with such negativity and hatred against Islam and Muslims.