So ‘Pastor’ Terry Jones in Florida finally set light to a copy of the Qur’an – but he did not do it himself, I see. He instructed an assistant pastor to do it.
As a result, demonstrations against this burning have continued in Afghanistan and Pakistan. So far more than 20 have died in violence that began with the massacre of seven UN aid workers in Mazar-e-Sharif last Friday.
Terry Jones doesn’t care. He’s going to stage a public trial of the Prophet Muhammad’s life, and plans to protest outside a mosque in Michigan.
Irony number one. His church is called the ‘Dove World Outreach Centre’. I presume that is supposed to be the dove of peace.
Irony number two. He may only have burned a translation of the Qur’an, in which case, most good Muslims would not consider this to be an authentic Qur’an. The authentic Holy Book is only written in Arabic.
‘Free speech’ – I can hear the cry go up from here. But when are we going to learn that any kind of freedom does not come vacuum-wrapped, as if it were unconnected with the rest of life? All freedom must also carry responsibility.
Our western democracies consider that people are entitled to express their opinion – however crude, stupid, loathsome or irresponsible an opinion it is. But this was not just a verbal expression of opinion. It was accompanied by an act which was a deliberate insult to Islam, and a conscious incitement to violence.
Obama has condemned the burning, and so has General Petraeus. Is that it? Our law has put in jail somebody who did the same thing in Wales.
Western church leaders have condemned not only the burning, but also the ensuing violence. And this is a very relevant point. Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, a Pakistani himself, said ‘it is no part of Christian mission to insult other people’s beliefs.’ He agreed that Jones bore a heavy responsibility. But he also criticised those who had taken part in the riot and the violence and had killed both the UN staff and local Christians.
Both Christians and Muslims need to condemn this violence. Responsibility goes both ways.
(apologies to my blog buddies – I pressed the wrong button and posted the title before I’d written the post – then got interrupted by the arrival of Granddaughter! :oops:)