Burn­ing the Qur’an

The Compass - - POINT OF VIEW -

mes­sage can­not be re­spected. Is­lamic law is to­tal­i­tar­ian in na­ture. Is­lam is in­com­pat­i­ble with democ­racy and hu­man rights. A Mus­lim has no right to change his re­li­gion. Deep in Is­lamic teach­ing and cul­ture is an ir­ra­tional fear and loathing of the West. Is­lam is a weapon of Arab im­pe­ri­al­ism and Is­lamic colo­nial­ism. So­lu­tion? “On Septem­ber 11th, 2010, from 6 to 9 p. m., we will burn the Ko­ran,” an­nounced DWOC on its Face­book page, “in re­mem­brance of the fallen vic­tims of 9/11 and to stand against the evil of Is­lam!”

I’m em­bar­rassed to say I’m a Chris­tian.

Chris­tian lead­ers im­me­di­ately — and rightly — de­nounced the an­nounce­ment.

The Na­tional His­panic Chris­tian Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence: “ Shame on you.”

The Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Evan­gel­i­cals: “It sounds like the pro­posed Qur’an burn­ing is rooted in re­venge.”

The South­ern Bap­tist Con­ven­tion: “It is ap­palling, disgusting and brain­less.”

The In­sti­tute for Global En­gage­ment: “ Fol­low­ers of Christ … don’t burn books. Nazis burn books.”

If there be any con­so­la­tion — and I re­al­ize this is grasp­ing for straws — Terry Jones, DWOC “pas­tor,” is es­pous­ing a mi­nor­ity Chris­tian po­si­tion.

Hav­ing said this, I must add that I dare not tram­ple on the right to free­dom of speech.

This is rec­og­nized as a hu­man right un­der Ar­ti­cle 19 of the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights and rec­og­nized in in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights law in the In­ter­na­tional Covenant on Civil and Po­lit­i­cal Rights.

How­ever, there are lim­i­ta­tions on free­dom of speech.

There is such a thing as “ hate speech,” any com­mu­ni­ca­tion which dis­par­ages a per­son or group on the ba­sis of some char­ac­ter­is­tic.

Do I per­son­ally ac­cept the Qur’an? No. Do I per­son­ally ac­cept the Bi­ble? Yes.

Would I want Mus­lims to burn the Bi­ble? No. Would I want Chris­tians to burn the Qur’an? No.

Do I de­fend the right to free­dom of speech? Yes.

How­ever, pub­licly burn­ing the Qur’an is not a right pro­tected by an ap­peal to free­dom of speech. Rather, it is a prime ex­am­ple of hate speech that must be op­posed with ev­ery fi­bre of our be­ing.

Who­ever Je­sus of Nazareth was, in word and deed he com­manded his fol­low­ers to love. In­deed, he him­self was the epit­ome of love. The Cru­sades, a blight on the face of Chris­ten­dom, are thank­fully a thing of the past. There’s no room in the cur­rent cen­tury or, for that mat­ter, in any cen­tury, for a re­turn to the idea of co­erced Chris­tian­ity.

Ac­tu­ally, the con­cept of de­cency in it­self is rea­son enough to de­nounce DWOC’s in­ten­tion to burn the Qur’an on the an­niver­sary of 9/11. Whether Chris­tian or athe­ist, Mus­lim or Bud­dhist, there should be no room in our be­lief sys­tem or world view for such a heinous act. Hu­man be­ings have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to stand firm against such in­flam­ma­tory ac­tions. In a glob­al­ized world, dif­fer­ences in be­lief and world view are strengths, not weak­nesses. Treat­ing one and all with the ut­most re­spect is in the self-in­ter­est of all of us.

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