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September 9, 2010

Dousing the flames of hatred


September 9, 2010

The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, in a despicable move, plans to mark the 9th anniversary of September 11, 2001, attacks on the US by burning copies of holy Quran.
The church claims the shocking event is “neither an act of love nor of hate” but a warning against alleged threats posed by one of the Abrahamic faiths i.e. Islam. The planned event is creating shockwaves around the world. On September 7, 2010, General Petraeus, the top US commander in Afghanistan, strongly criticised the small Florida church’s plan to burn copies of the Quran. Before him, Lt-Gen William Caldwell, the head of Nato efforts to train Afghan security forces, had asserted: “We very much feel that this can jeopardize the safety of our men and women that are serving over here in the country.”
Earlier, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the threat to burn copies of holy Quran “disrespectful, disgraceful act.” Attorney General Eric Holder called it idiotic and dangerous. A State Department spokesman branded the planned protest “un-American”.
However, the American pastor has ignored the requests, including one made by General Petraeus. Needless to say, the consequences of the event, if it goes ahead as planned, would be dreadful.
First, the event, if it takes place, would have a strong negative impact on the US efforts to fight al-Qaeda and their likes throughout the world. The support for the American efforts against extremism would receive a major setback as the burning would be seen not only as an insult to the holy Quran, but also as an insult to Islam and Muslims around the world.
Therefore, it would become more and more difficult to convince the Muslims to rise against the extremist threat.Second, in Pakistan, the US has perhaps done more than any other country to help the victims of the flood. It has poured in cash, relief goods, helicopters and personnel so as to improve its image in a country where most people

are skeptical about its decision to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. The Quran burning could again turn the sentiments of the people against the US.
Third, burning the Muslim holy book could cause significant problems everywhere in the world for US diplomats and troops and also American nationals. In the US itself, it could inflame anti-Muslim sentiment, especially in the context of the ongoing debate over the proposed Islamic center near ground zero in NY.
Fourth, the event could have an impact on interfaith harmony in the Muslim world with some zealots attacking minorities and their worship places.In short, the vile event will have a great symbolic and figurative significance to a Muslim world which feels it is under attack by the United States. Pastor Jones has already inflamed passions around the globe and could cause unwarranted harm to US relations with the Muslim world, particularly the war effort against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. In 2005, “Newsweek” reported that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility flushed the holy Quran down a toilet.
The story was later retracted, but in protests throughout the Muslim world, 15 people died and scores were wounded. The planned event, if it goes ahead, could have as powerful impact, if not more, as the tragic events and photos that Abu Ghraib had.

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