“Where they have burned books, they will in the end burn human beings---Heinrich Heine.
As hard as it is to believe, a Pentecostal minister had proposed the burning of a religious text. The pretext was over his opposition to the ill-conceived building of a mosque at Ground Zero; near the site of where the Twin Towers stood (the mosque is to be named the “Victory Mosque”). Didn’t that go out of fad in the West during the end of the Middle Ages?
Reverend Terry Jones had planned on using the anniversary of 9/11 to create a media event by burning copies of the Koran outside his small 50 member church located in Gainesville, Florida. According to Jones, the Koran “espouses evil” because it teaches something other than “biblical truth” in accordance to Reverend Jones’ beliefs.
The minister has come under intense pressure not to follow through with “stunt” as President Obama put it, and claimed that it would put US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in additional harm’s way. US Secretary of State Robert Gates made a personal phone call to Jones and asked that the event be cancelled. Even the Pope weighed in and suggested the reverend reconsider.
After meeting with Imam Muhammad Musri, the president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, and praying for a sign from God, the minister agreed to postpone, for now, the fiery demise the Moslem’s holy text, in exchange for moving the Ground Zero Mosque. Reverend Jones has agreed to fly to New York with the Imam to meet with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, leader of the Islamic Center building the mosque. Jones had commented that an agreement was reached to relocate the mosque away from the site where Moslem terror-cowards hijacked two passenger planes and rammed them into the Twin Towers.
Imam Rauf said, however, that no such agreement had been reached. If fact, the imam rather defiantly said, "I am glad that Pastor Jones has decided not to burn any Qurans. However, I have not spoken to Pastor Jones or Imam Musri. We are not going to toy with our religion or any other. Nor are we going to barter. We are here to extend our hands to build peace and harmony." Jones stands by his claim, and said "I verified that three or four times with witnesses. I trust that man who gave me that. I believe he is a man of integrity, a man of his word, I do not believe that he lied to me. If the mosque is not moved, Jones added "then I think Islam is a very poor example of religion. I think that would be very pitiful. I do not expect that."
Word of the planned burning spread rapidly in the Moslem World with counter burnings proposed amid mass protests and chants of “Death to Christians” throughout even the most moderate of Moslem countries. So what are we to make of all this?
First, I think this was a nothing more than a publicity stunt to promote Jones and his church. Sure, his disgust over the building of the mosque at Ground Zero is probably real enough. Who isn’t ticked off at its audacity? Historically, a mosque has always been erected at or near the site major victories. Is it any wonder the Ground Zero Mosque is unofficially known as the “Victory Mosque”? Of course, the new offical name is Park51. It was changed from Cordoba House. But, having said that, Jones was successfully in getting some attention for his church and perhaps, some donations from some well meaning souls. Will he be successful in getting the mosque moved? Of course not. Nevertheless, after the book burnings of Nazi Germany, how can anyone call for the burning or for that matter, even the banning of books, especially a religious text? In the end, you only destroy paper and cardboard while the ideas contained in the books are only inflamed by the fire.
Secondly, if Reverend Jones, or someone else, stages a Koran burning now or in the future, would it put US troops in danger? I think the answer is obvious, and not only US troops, but civilians as well as Westerners in general. Remember, non-Moslems are allowed to practice their religions only as courtesy of the host nation not as right. There is no such thing as religious freedom there. Non-Moslems are afforded little legal recourse against discrimination or even attacks based on religion. Christian churches, as well as Hindu and Buddhist temples (some centuries old) had been vandalized and even destroyed with no punishment of the perpetrators. The occasional public “anti-West’ demonstrations and burning of the Christian Bible, the Jewish Torah, and well as other sacred texts are not that uncommon. So, we certainly have a double standard that the West, at least, seems to be willing to play along with.
So, what’s the solution? Obviously global religious freedom, tolerance, and sensitivity would be a good place to start, but don’t look for that to happen as long as some religions have an “all or nothing” mentality and are quietly (and not so quietly) working to bring about their version of the Armageddon. While the Islamic Center in New York has a Constitutional right to build a mosque wherever zoning ordinances permit in this country, something their own religion denies to others, their insensitively to the location barely masks an arrogance and contempt for America.
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