Criticism mounts of “anti-Muslim frenzy” in U.S., Koran burning plan under fire
U.S. religious leaders have condemned an “anti-Muslim frenzy” in the United States, including plans by a Florida church to burn a Koran on September 11, an act a top general said could endanger American troops abroad. Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders denounced the “misinformation and outright bigotry” against U.S. Muslims resulting from plans to build a Muslim community center and mosque not far from the site of the September 11, 2001, hijacked plane attacks in New York by Islamist militants. The Vatican has also condemned the Koran burning plan.
(Photo: Indonesian Care for Pluralism Movement protests against Koran burning plan, Jakarta, 8 Sept 2010/Crack Palinggi)
Tensions have risen with the approach of both the September 11 anniversary on Saturday and the Muslim Eid al-Fitr festival that marks the close of the fasting month of Ramadan, which is expected to end around Friday. Passions have been further inflamed by Terry Jones, the pastor of a 30-person church in Gainesville, Florida, who has announced plans to burn a Koran on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Jones says he wants to “expose Islam (as a) violent and oppressive religion.”
Religious leaders, including Washington Roman Catholic Archbishop emeritus Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Dr. Michael Kinnamon of the National Council of Churches, released a statement on Tuesday saying they were “alarmed by the anti-Muslim frenzy” and “appalled by such disrespect for a sacred text.” Read the full story here.
General David Petraeus, the head of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement the Koran burning could “endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort” to stabilize the Afghan situation. “It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems, not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community.” Read the full story here.
U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley called the plan “un-American.”
“We are conscious that a number of voices have come out and rejected what this pastor and this community have proposed,” Crowley told a news briefing on Tuesday. “We would like to see more Americans stand up and say ‘this is inconsistent with our American values.’ In fact these actions themselves are un-American.”
(Photo: Afghans protest against Koran burning, Kabul, 6 Sept 2010 /Mohammad Ishaq)
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has also condemned the proposed Koran-burning, calling it disrespectful and saying it could put Western troops in Afghanistan at risk.
The Vatican weighed in on Wednesday, saying that the “deplorable acts of violence” committed on 9/11 “cannot be counteracted by an outrageous and grave gesture against a book considered sacred by a religious community. Each religion, with its respective sacred books, places of worship and symbols, has the right to respect and protection.”
Meanwhile, families of September 11 victims are arguing whether to call a truce on the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on the United States as debate rages over plans for a Muslim center near the World Trade Center site. Read the full story here.