Terry Jones, the pastor of a Florida based church called the Dove World Outreach Center, has decided to call off a planned burning of the Koran, the Muslim holy book, in commemoration of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.
The announcement that copies of the Koran would be burned caused widespread condemnation from every political stripe, as well as demonstrations in the Muslim world and threats of violence.
Personalities that condemned the planned burning of the Koran included Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, General David Petreaus, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and President Barack Obama. The White House even suggested that President Obama would personally call Terry Jones to ask that he would desist.
In a strange way, Terry Jones has found a rather cheap way to get his fifteen minutes of fame. By simply threatening to do something outrageous, by burning the Koran, and claiming some kind of moral justification for it, Jones got the attention of the world. It was not very approving attention, to be sure. But as Oscar Wilde once said, the worst thing than being talked about is not being talked about. It’s a pretty impressive accomplishment for a tiny church with only fifty members.
The threat to burn the Koran and the angst and controversy surrounding it was a curious mirror image to the affair of the 9/11 Mosque. Like the proposal to build a Mosque within walking distance of Ground Zero, my opponents, while pointing out the there was a perfect right to do so, noted also that it was not right to do so, considering how it rubbed raw the wounds of 9/11.
And so too the proposal to burn copies of the Koran. As with the American flag, Rev. Jones had a constitutional protected right to burn any holy book he wanted. But aside from the grave insult offered all Muslims, most of whom were never terrorists or approving of terrorism, the whole idea of burning books smacked of Nazi era spectacles provided a stench to the nostrils of most people.
The Dove World Outreach Center and Terry Jones has gotten what it really wants, publicity. The church provided shock value with the original proposal to burn the Koran. The Dove World Outreach Center has now seemed to show magnanimity by cancelling the event is response to the entities by just about everyone in the world.
It is an ugly precedence and a signal for just about anyone to attempt the same kind of stunt. But there it is, life in the era of instant, world-wide communications.
And just to illustrate that fact, Fred Phelp’s mad cap, gay hating Westboro Baptist Church has announced its own plans to have a Koran burning. And so it goes.
Update: Now Pastor Terry Jones says that the Koran Burning has only been “suspended.”
“The anti-Muslim leader of a tiny Florida church says he was lied to and is rethinking his decision to cancel burning Qurans to mark 9/11.
“Pastor Terry Jones earlier Thursday had backed off his threat to burn the Quran after he said he was promised that a planned Islamic center and mosque would be moved away from New York’s ground zero. Muslim leaders denied there was such a deal.
“Later outside his church he said that the imam he thought he made the deal with ‘clearly, clearly lied to us’ about moving the mosque.
“Jones and Imam Muhammad Musri stood side by side in a news conference where the pastor said he would cancel Saturday’s event.
“Musri later told The Associated Press there was only an agreement for him and Jones to travel to New York and meet Saturday with the imam overseeing plans to build a mosque near ground zero.”
Sources: Florida pastor calls off Quran burning, CNN, September 9th, 2010
Dove World Outreach Center’s Plan to Burn the Koran for 9/11, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, September 6th, 2010
Westboro Baptist Church to burn Qurans if Dove doesn’t, Chad Smith OCALA.Com, September 9th, 2010
Pastor says Quran-burning suspended, not canceled, Antonio Gonzalez, AP, September 9th, 2010