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Of Islam and burning of the Quran

An obscure cleric in US threatened to burn copies of the Holy Quran, the Last Testament, to mark 9/11 anniversary.

The man was convinced the Quran inspires evil in Islam. To most Americans, 9/11 was the work of Islam as it was ostensibly done in its name. The construction of a mosque and Islamic cultural centre in New York is being frustrated on grounds it will be too close for comfort, to the so-called ‘hallowed’ Ground Zero.

From the outset, the US pastor, Terry Jones, needs to know he can seek further inspiration to burn all the copies of the Quran in the world, including those on our mobile chips, computers, CDs, and the internet but he won’t succeed in erasing it from our memory. The Quran is memorised by most Muslims and even children below the age of ten can recite or write out the entire Quran. Mr Jones and his supporters in US are largely ignorant of this fact.

But I believe his primary reason for doing so is to link Islam to violence and terrorism and in so doing blossom the growing Islamophobia in the US. Well, his Government has beaten him to it. Since 9/11, the US has used the purported war on terror to disparage Islam and portray it as an affront to ‘Western’ values and ideals.

Muslims critical of its actions were soon branded radicals, extremists, militants, and were considered legitimate targets for arrests, persecution and placed on ‘watch-lists’. In Abu Ghuraib, Guantanamo and other secret rendition prisons, suspects were denied basic human rights and tortured. Quranic ‘madrassas’ were deemed to be breeding grounds for terrorists and host countries pressured to shut them down, as were most Muslim NGOs involved in Islamic propagation and relief. Jones is not considered an extremist or barbaric in US; it is his democratic right.

If a Muslim would preach similar extremism, he would be a terror suspect, and would probably be behind bars. Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal, the Jamaican Islamic preacher whose presence in Kenya caused a storm last year was arrested and deported out of UK for extremist views against Judaism and Christianity, and placed under ‘watch-list’. In its blind duplicity, the West celebrates even the most perverted anti-Islamist such as atheist Salman Rushdie who wrote the Satanic Verses, the Danish cartoonists, Ayan Hirsi, etc.

Mr Jones action worries US because it places their ‘citizens and security forces’ at risk; it does not prick their conscience that adherents of a major world religion is offended and provoked, or profanity visited upon Islamic faith. There were no spontaneous demonstrations in the US, such as we saw in New York against the Islamic cultural centre. As the world’s super power, their actions are being copied in many countries, including our own. Secret renditions of Muslim ‘terror’ suspects are carried out with impunity amid claims of torture. Yet, when a pastor suspected of Uhuru Park bombing was arrested, he was quickly arraigned in court and released on bond.

The slighting of Islam is also patented; for instance, Muslims celebrated Idd on Friday throughout the country, but it is Saturday that is declared the public holiday. Would it ever happen that Christians are asked to work on Christmas Day but have public holiday the next day? The US needs to appreciate that protection of world religions is no less important than protection of property or intellectual rights of its individuals. Allowing such uncivilised behavior only strengthens the widely held belief among Muslims that it is at war with Islam.

Jones may or may not go ahead with his threat but that he has been allowed to entertain his weird thoughts reveals the double standards and earns US more enemies.

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