The appalling Terry Jones has done it at last. Wayne Sapp, assistant to the publicity hungry pastor burned a Koran, filmed the event, and posted the video on YouTube. Channel 4 News responsibly declined to show us the video, but pointed us all to where we can see it and be suitably shocked. The BBC took us up to the point of the burning and then cut the video.
The video, practically unnoticed in the West, was seized upon in Pakistan and Afghanistan. After Friday prayers in which the mullah of the city’s Blue Mosque whipped them into a frenzy a mob of 2000 raging Muslims attacked a UN post in peaceful Mazar-e-Sharif. The post was invaded, destroyed and reportedly 7 UN international staff and 13 Afghan UN workers and guards were murdered. At least two were beheaded.
A truly horrific event.
I would not burn a Koran for two reasons. Firstly history teaches us that those who burn books too easily end up burning people. Enough Bibles have been burned in the past by communists and Nazis, and continue to be burned today by Muslims throughout the world, to put Christians off the idea of book burning altogether.
Secondly, and more fundamentally, out of respect. The Koran as a book is worthy of no more respect than the Book of Mormon, Mein Kampf, the works of L Ron Hubbard or any other load of religious or ideological tosh. I would refuse to burn a Koran out of respect for the feelings of those who do not consider it a load of tosh. Politeness and consideration for others are much undervalued qualities.
In the midst of this there are already voices proclaiming that Terry Jones and his acolytes are responsible for the deaths in Mazar-e-Sharif. It was the actions of Sapp and Jones which sparked off this atrocity, but they were not responsible for the murders.
The responsibility for the murders lies with those who would propagate an intolerant ideology which cannot counter opposition with argument but responds instinctively with murderous violence. Radical Islam shares more than anti-Semitism with the Nazis.
Islam is not a religion of peace. It was formed in violence and one of its major gifts to the world is the concept of the holy war. This idea was unknown to the Church until it came into contact with Islam. Muhammad was the first crusader.
The Koran should not have been burned, not because the Koran is special but because experience teaches us that its followers cannot be relied upon to react in a rational manner as generally speaking those brought up in the Christian influenced West would react.
To lay responsibility for this dreadful crime at the door of Jones is to be guilty of racism. It is to argue that Pakistanis, Afghans, people of differing ethnicities and cultures should not be held to the standards we would routinely expect of Westerners. There is a world of difference between a book and twenty lives.
Jones is guilty of rudeness serving a aching need for publicity. The mullahs are guilty of incitement to murder.