News / Middle East

UAE: US Condemnation of Quran Burning Sends Powerful Message to Muslims

Multimedia

Audio
  • Interview with UAE FM Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan

This week, the Muslim world celebrates Eid-al-Fitr, the joyful three-day celebration marking the end of the Ramadan fast, which this year coincides with the ninth anniversary of September 11and plans by a radical Christian community in the southern U.S. state of Florida to burn copies of the Quran.  The Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville has suspended plans for its controversial bonfire but some analysts say even if it does not take place, the damage to relations with the Muslim world has already been done.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan is minister of foreign affairs for the United Arab Emirates, which has a large expatriate community representing many religious faiths.

Hilleary: Your highness, the UAE has a large expatriate community, including many Christians.  Are you concerned about the possible backlash, whether this cleric proceeds with the burning or not?

Sheikh Abdullah: First of all, this is a very small church, and his voice is not very well respected, even in his own community, and I'm very glad that the community - the United States, President Obama, the international community - has condemned this crazy idea, which definitely should be condemned in the harshest words.

Nevertheless, the UAE is a country of tolerance, of respect.  We have a lot of different religions living in peace in the UAE. We have over 50 churches in the UAE, and I don't think that this will have in any, sense, any backlash in the UAE. The people in the UAE are well aware that this does not represent the American people, who respect Muslims and respect the religion.  

Hilleary: This coincides with one of the biggest religious holidays [Eid al Fitr] of the Muslim calendar year.  Is this detracting, do you believe, anything from this big celebration?

Sheikh Abdullah: Not at all.  I think the Muslim world is very much impressed - as they should do - with the amount of outrage that the international community is taking against this.  I believe that Muslims around the world are seeing that in a very positive way, and I think that this is even a much more important message to the Muslim world how much their religion and their faith is respected.   

Hilleary: That's a very positive message.   If you had a message for Terry Jones and others like him, what would it be?

Sheikh Abdullah: Well, I would definitely say that Muslims overall do respect other faiths.   There are extremists in different religions and faiths.  There are, unfortunately, in our faith as well.   And I really hope that we, in our message, can show the entire world that as much as we can, we respect their religion, we respect their faith-or not, if they don't have one.   

But it's unfortunate that whatever these extremists in other-than-Muslim religion are behaving, this only helps people like Osama bin Laden or his followers who do not - not only do not respect our religion, as I see it, but don't talk on behalf of it.

Hilleary: It's been nine years since 9/11.   Why do you believe there has been this resurgence of Islamophobia in the United States?

Sheikh Abdullah: I don't think it's because of 9/11.   I think 9/11 unfortunately has been used by the extremists on both sides.  And we, as moderates in all religions, have to stand in front of them and show the world that whoever is using 9/11 as a tool has to be condemned in the harshest words.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs