Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Dove World Outrage Center

A tiny church in Florida is punching above its weight by threatening to burn copies of the Qur'an on 11 September. The pastor appears to have no knowledge of what the Qur'an actually says, but has convinced himself and his followers that the Qur'an is "full of lies" [BBC News 8 September 2010].

This threat has attracted wide publicity, and has been condemned by American and other Western leaders including
  • Tony Blair, former British prime minister
  • Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State
  • Robert Gates, US Secretary of Defense
  • Eric Holder, US Attorney General
  • Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General 
  • Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, former archbishop of Washington
  • Peter MacKay, Canadian Defence Minister
  • General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Afghanistan
  • Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Secretary General 
Even key figures of the American right such as Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin have criticized the plan. But in a world where traditional leadership can be defied and disrespected by tiny groups of trouble-makers, mere verbal condemnation (expressing one's outrage on Twitter) hardly seems adequate.

There is a general problem with protesting against extremism of all kinds, which is that such protests are often counter-productive, merely alienating the extremists and reinforcing their beliefs. But what is the alternative? In this case, there is an obvious remedy: I hope that Christian leaders, especially in America, have the courage to organize mass readings of the holy books of other religions, including the Qur'an, in order to demonstrate that their faith is compatible with many of the truths contained in these religions.

Meanwhile, people are sending books for the bonfire. Some of these books may be genuine copies of the Qur'an, but I expect that a few tricksters will be sending in disguised copies of the Bible and the American Constitution to be burned as well. Ha!

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