News / USA

Religious Leaders Appeal for Calm After Quran Burning

Effigy of the American pastor Terry Jones is seen burning during a demonstration in Shinwar, Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, after protests erupted in Afghanistan again Monday against the Florida pastor's burning of the Quran, April 4, 201
Effigy of the American pastor Terry Jones is seen burning during a demonstration in Shinwar, Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, after protests erupted in Afghanistan again Monday against the Florida pastor's burning of the Quran, April 4, 201

Last fall, when Florida pastor Terry Jones first threatened to burn a copy of the Muslim holy book, a group of Christian ministers met with him and urged him not to do it.

Geoff Tunnicliffe was among them. He's International Director of the New York-based World Evangelical Alliance, which represents 600 million Evangelical Christians around the globe.

He says he told Jones: "If you continue with your action and violence occurs, pastors are killed, churches are burnt down, would you actually come with me and sit with widows and explain to them why you had to take the action you did?"

That statement is thought to have helped persuade Jones to abandon his plans last fall. But when Jones made it clear earlier this year that he would go ahead after all, Tunnicliffe again tried to stop him and failed. Jones burned a Quran on March 20. And despite condemnations by U.S. President Barack Obama and Gen. David Petraeus, commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, angry mobs there have staged deadly protests including an attack on a U.N. compound,killing seven U.N. workers.

Christian and Muslim religious leaders in America are condemning the burning of a Quran by a Florida pastor and the deadly violence it triggered in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They also are appealing for moderation as the pastor plans to escalate his anti-Muslim activities.

Tunnicliffe says Jones' small church is not even a member of the World Evangelical Alliance. "The message that we're trying to get out is that Terry Jones operates a tiny fringe congregation that is not representative of mainstream church Evangelicalism or Christian belief," he said.

While Christian leaders condemn the desecration of Muslim scriptures, a number of Muslim leaders in America have condemned the violent reaction.

Daisy Khan is the executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement. She's also the wife of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, whose proposal to locate a mosque near the site of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks stirred controversy last year.

She said Jones cannot be accused of committing a crime. "Well, burning the Quran is not a crime because God doesn't need any defense," Khan said. "The Quran is the word of God. That's like saying when Pastor Terry puts the Quran on trial, did he invite God to come down and defend himself?"

Khan said Muslims everywhere should remember their faith is about moderation.

Robert Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute in Washington said most Americans are moderate in their view of Islam.

In a February poll by his institute, 62 percent of respondents said American Muslims are an important part of the U.S. religious community. He said Americans also have a high regard for scripture.

"So there's an intense respect for religion in the general public that in itself cuts against these sorts of acts being okay with many in public," said Jones.

Out on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., visitors from around the country said what the Florida pastor did was inexcusable.

"I don't know why anybody would burn a holy book, for any reason," says Marylin Paul of Virginia.

James Gibson, who is from Georgia, said he agrees, for the most part. "But I do find it kind of ironic that they can scream, 'Death to infidels,' but if we do anything we're just, you know, the devil."

As for Florida Pastor Terry Jones, his web site says he's now planning a protest in front of one of America's largest mosques in Dearborn, Michigan. He's also quoted as saying he wants to put Islam's prophet Mohammed on trial.


Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Sunni-Shi’ite Divide Threatens Middle East Stability

Analysts say ancient dispute that traces back to Islamic Revolution is fueling modern day unrest More

Shifting Demographics Lie Beneath Racial Tensions in Ferguson

As Missouri suburb morphed from majority white to majority black, observers say power structure remained static More

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Restriction is toughest since Soviet era, though critics reject move as patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid