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Christian Mission Fears Quran Burning Will Result in Persecution

Carl Moeller, president of Open Doors USA is concerned about the impact of Saturday's planned burning of copies of the Muslim holy book Quran, in Florida. The California-based organization provides Bibles, training and other services to minority Christian groups who frequently face discrimination around the world.

“The minority Christian communities in Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza, other places around the world where extremism is often used as a weapon against American interests and Christian interests, Christians are very vulnerable in those situations,” Moeller said. “So, our concerns really stem from not a religious liberty issue, we certainly have the right to do whatever we would like to do on a free speech or religious liberty basis here in America. But, what we have to take into consideration, and what I think this church has failed to take into consideration, is the impact of our actions on others. And, in this case, the others represent Christians living throughout the Middle East and other parts of the Muslim world.”

The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, has been advertising an event it calls "International Burn a Quran Day." The small Christian church is planning to hold the event on September 11, in part to honor those killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. The church's leader, Terry Jones, has said the burning of the Quran sends a message to violent Islamic extremists like al-Qaida, who carried out the attacks against the United States.

Moeller says in many Muslim countries Christian communities have, in the past, been targets of discrimination.

“They have already become targets of some other perceived slights to Islam like the Danish cartoons of a few years ago," he noted. "It wasn’t Danish cartoonists that were burned or set on by mobs, but it was churches and pastors and Christians in the local area that those mobs turned on."

Open Doors president Moeller says actions such as the one planned by the Florida church, can be used to bring Christians living abroad under a great deal of suffering.