World Weighs In to Condemn Terry Jones' Planned Quran-Burning
Around the State
Religious and political leaders from across the country and around the world continued Wednesday -- almost unanimously -- to condemn a planned Quran-burning event in Gainesville. "International Burn a Koran Day," to be led by Pastor Terry Jones from his evangelical World Outreach Center, is still scheduled for Saturday -- the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
At the Vatican, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue called Jones’ plan “an outrageous and grave gesture against a book considered sacred by a religious community.
"Each religious leader and believer is also called to renew the firm condemnation of all forms of violence, in particular those committed in the name of religion," added the council in a statement released Wednesday morning.
The Obama administration also expressed opposition to the Quran-burning event.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who met with religious leaders Tuesday to discuss the planned Saturday event, condemned Jones’ plan as “idiotic and dangerous.” Obama adviser David Axelrod was on NBC’s Today show on Wednesday morning trashing the idea.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also took aim at Jones in remarks Tuesday night -- ironically enough at dinner honoring Iftar, part of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month. "I am heartened by the clear, unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful, disgraceful act that has come from American religious leaders of all faiths," she said.
As for the president, while Obama himself has remained silent, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs echoed comments made earlier in the week by Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of American forces in Afghanistan, that the Quran burnings could prove deadly to American servicemen stationed in the Middle East.
Republicans in Congress also criticized Jones and his plans.
“Just because you have a right to do something in America does not mean it is the right thing to do,” said U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio in Washington on Wednesday. “We are a nation of religious freedom, we’re also a nation of tolerance.” Boehner agreed with Petraeus that the Quran burnings would increase the hazards to American troops overseas.
Petraeus’ comments also garnered support from an unlikely source -- U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and possibly may run again in 2012. Paul issued a strong statement on Tuesday, taking issue with Jones and the burning.
“A professed Christian pastor in Gainesville, Fla., Terry Jones, plans to burn copies of the Quran on 9/11,” said Paul. “He indicts all Islam for 9/11 and argues that it is a hate-driven religion. He’s convinced he’s on God’s side even though he is getting little support from other Christians, who believe that Jesus is the Prince of Peace.
“This blame of all Muslims for the atrocities of 9/11 only makes things worse -- especially since it wasn’t the Taliban or Afghanistans that committed the atrocities on 9/11,” added Paul. “Under Jones’ warped logic, we should have attacked Saudi Arabia since 15 of the 19 suicide bombers came from that country.”
Florida politicians have lagged behind their national counterparts in offering their takes on Jones and the event, though Gov. Charlie Crist -- who is running in the U.S. Senate race without party affiliation -- condemned it Tuesday during a speech in Tampa on stem-cell research.
“As a member of the Florida Legislature and resident of the state of Florida, I am outraged and embarrassed that any of our residents would advocate the practice of burning copies of the Quran in a manner of disrespect and intolerance,” said Rep. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami. “I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the state of Florida and the United States of America. And while I believe strongly in citizens' rights to protest, I believe we have an even greater moral obligation to protect the freedom of religion on which this country is founded."
Jones told the media Wednesday morning that he is praying whether to hold the event, but it is still scheduled. He also said that he had received more than 100 death threats and is carrying a weapon to ensure his safety.