The problem is not Terry Jones. In countries with real freedom, there will be plenty of provocateurs. It is the media and organizations —Politico reported in the case of Jones that it was the Council of American-Islamic Relations that first focused on the planned “burning”– that have the ability to decide who gets attention. CAIR has now condemned the violence that resulted from Jones’s actions.
I do not believe that burning Korans is at all necessary to make a case for the concerns many of us have about radical Islam. Since the Jones controversy started, I have publicly disapproved of his stunt.
However, will the same people who rush to condemn Koran burning also condemn art or commentary that mocks the Christian faith? (Panelists John Mark Reynolds makes the same point, here) If not, is it because they feel there is no need to condemn Christian-bashing because Christians pose no risk of organizing a mob, storming an international organization’s building, and cutting people’s heads off, as was done in Afghanistan?
Koran burning has the potential to set off a fire in the Muslim world; that is why it is being condemned. That statement alone, which I believe just about everyone reading would agree with, is reason enough to be leery about the radical elements of Islam. Instead of focusing on an obscure pastor of a small church in Florida, we should condemn Muslims with big platforms, specifically President Zardari of Pakistan and President Karzai of Afghanistan, who made this an issue – they have blood on their hands.
Yet, these atrocities demonstrate a bigger problem the Muslim world must aggressively confront. If two Muslim presidents condemn a Florida pastor for burning a Koran and subsequently innocent people are killed, it is easy to understand why so many Americans believe Islam has a significant problem.
In America, we have the right to burn holy books, to mock religion, and criticize our government. We may not like this kind of behavior, I certainly do not, but the right to do it is a part of what sets America apart from the rest of the world.
Religious people in America have the right to peacefully protest whatever or whomever they deem to be disrespectful. I would expect Muslims to protest Koran burning, but now we are almost certain that some will violently respond to anything that is an affront to their faith. It is a frightening reality.