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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More