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Announced Suspension of Quran Burning Welcomed in Europe

Announced Suspension of Quran Burning Welcomed in Europe
Announced Suspension of Quran Burning Welcomed in Europe

The prospect of a Florida pastor burning copies of the Quran has resonated around the world, sparking demonstrations and interfaith dialogues.

Despite the announcement that the Quran burning had been suspended, at least one London mosque decided to go ahead with a multi-faith meeting addressing the issue. "Is it justified by any standard that the follower of one religion should be burning the sacred books of others?," asked Ataul Mujeed Rashed, the imam of the Regents Park mosque.

US diplomat Philip Breeden said "The deliberate destruction of any holy book is an abhorrent act. We also believe that the best answer to offensive speech is dialogue and debate."

The Quran was placed next to holy books of other faiths, and although the Imam of the mosque did not mention the controversy in his Friday sermon, he issued a statement condemning the spread of hate and calling for decency and tolerance.

The words of dialogue and reconciliation at the London mosque were far different from some of the reactions around the world.

In Afghanistan, thousands of people protested, shouting, "Death to America." In Gaza and East Jerusalem they held up copies of the Quran in defiance.

Earlier in the week, the demonstrations were more violent. In Pakistan, protesters burned American flags. The tenor of those protests drew condemnation here in London -- from Muslims.

"Burning up other people's flags is totally un-Islamic," said Mansour Shah, a member of a Mulsim congregation.

"You shouldn't fight fire with fire, because you know the fights will just be never-ending. This is how it leads to wars etcetera.  Islam means peace," said Wajiha Mohammed.

Elsewhere in Europe, the announcement suspending the Quran burning was welcomed.

Luxembourg's foreign minister Jean Asselborn said "It is really good that we have been able to stop this idiocy of burning the Quran in the United States."

And NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen added that "I am happy to see that he has put this terrible act on hold at least. It is a very disrespectful act, I urge all people to demonstrate clear respect for other people's faith."

The announced suspension came  as Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al Fitr,  a major feast  -- and as the Muslim faith continues to be at the center of international controversy.

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