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September 08, 2010

Religious, Political Leaders Decry Planned Quran Burning

Religious and political leaders around the world are decrying plans by a local American pastor to burn the Quran. They fear the action could set off a worldwide extremist backlash.

Muslims believe the Quran is the living word of God. Burning it would represent the highest level of desecration to them.

The president of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation and a friend of the United States, asked President Barack Obama Thursday to intervene against radical pastor Terry Jones' planned Saturday burning.

Pakistan warned that the planned ceremony would cause "irreparable" damage to world peace, while India, which has the world's third largest Muslim population, called on the U.S. to take "strong action" against the event.

France and Britain also have spoken out against the burning. And Bahrain, home of the U.S. Fifth Fleet called the plan "shameful." The United Nations and the Vatican have joined the growing chorus of global criticism.

The United Arab Emirates' foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nayhan, told VOA the international condemnation of Jones' plan shows Muslims how much their religion is respected.

Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono wrote a personal letter to the U.S. president that the burning would damage relations between the West and Muslims, and threaten "world peace."

Egypt's official news agency MENA quoted al-Azhar, the main seat of learning for Sunni Islam, as saying it would be a "disaster."

Hundreds of angry protesters took to the streets northeast of Kabul Thursday, chanting anti-U.S. and anti-Christian slogans. Similar protests took place in the capital earlier this week.

The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, has warned that burning the Quran could be harmful to U.S. forces. Germany's commander in Afghanistan added that the event would provide a trigger for violence against all international troops in that country.

The FBI has warned that Islamist extremists might retaliate with violent demonstrations within the United States and abroad.

Television stations across the Arab world are headlining the story.

 

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.