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Pentagon Seeks to Stop Qur’an Burning

Published: 21/04/2012 12:18:14 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Pentagon officials are desperately attempting at dismaying controversial Qur'an-burning pastor Terry Jones from burning the holy Qur'an next week, saying his action could sour relations with Kabul and unleash huge pro (more)

CAIRO - Pentagon officials are desperately attempting at dismaying controversial Qur'an-burning pastor Terry Jones from burning the holy Qur'an next week, saying his action could sour relations with Kabul and unleash huge protests against United States worldwide.

"We are aware of Pastor Terry Jones' threat to burn a Qur'an, and are monitoring the situation,” Commander Bill Speaks, a Pentagon spokesman, told the Guardian.

“The last time Pastor Jones burned a Qur'an, back in March of 2011, more than 16 people died and more than 90 people were injured from the resulting protests.

“We hope Pastor Jones will take into account the safety and welfare of deployed US military personnel before engaging in such an activity again," he added.

Threatening huge anti-US protests, the controversial pastor called for another worldwide burning of the Qur'an on 5pm on Saturday April 28 if an imprisoned pastor in Iran is not released from a death sentence after converting from Islam to Christianity.

Jones, a 58-year-old pastor and the head of a small fringe church in Gainesville, Florida, burnt the Qur'an in front of a crowd of about 50 people on March 20 in what he called "International Judge the Qur'an Day".

Video posted on the website of his church showed a kerosene-soaked book going up in bright flames, sending thousands of angry Afghans into the streets in deadly protests that left scores of people dead.

The act also prompted attacks on a UN compound in Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan in which seven UN employees died, and there were other fatal protests around the region.

"What happened last time and what could happen this time is not our responsibility," Jones said, washing his hands from responsibility of last year's clashes.

“All we did was burn a book. It posed no threat to anyone else, yet riots broke out several thousand miles away.”

The threat from Jones comes in a year that has already been disastrous for relations between Afghans and US forces.

This week, the Los Angeles Times published of pictures showing US troops with dismembered bodies in Afghanistan in 2010.

In January, American soldiers were shown urinating at the dead bodies of Taliban fighters, sparking a storm of anger and condemnations from across the Muslim world.

US troops were also engulfed in another crisis after the burning of copies of the Noble Qur'an at a US military base near Kabul in February.

At least 30 people were killed in violent protests against the burning of the Muslim holy book.

Protecting Qur'an

Hoping to prevent the burning of the Muslim holy book, Afghans urged the American government to stop the controversial pastor from carrying his hateful plans.

"Burning the holy book is a big sin,” Sayed Hussani Balkhi, a Kabul member of parliament, told The Guardian.

“This action has to be condemned by the international community.

Balkhi warned that these notorious actions against Muslims would only consolidate anti-US opposition among Afghans who would resort to Taliban.

“If this person doesn't stop and he burns the holy book again, then the patience of the Afghan people will end, so the result of that will be the ordinary people will join with the Taliban,” he added.

"And if the American people don't stop this person, then the people of Afghanistan will stand on their own feet against them."

Maulavi Mohammad Qalamuddin, deputy head of the virtue and vice ministry under the Taliban regime, agreed.

"This person who is planning to burn the holy book in Florida is an ignorant person. He is crazy,” Qalamuddin said.

“This man is going to make the Muslim people of Afghanistan emotional … It is the job of the American government to stop him and capture him."

Other Afghans said that the responsibility of protecting the Muslim holy book from such hateful actions falls on the shoulders of American people.

"Islam doesn't allow us to dishonour the Christian holy book, so it is the job of Christians to respect the holy Qur'an as well," said Jamshed Hashimi, a 45-year-old teacher at one of the private universities of Kabul.

"It is the job of the Americans to stop this person, otherwise the militants, the insurgents will use this opportunity and the people will help them."

Reproduced with permission from