Burning the Qur’an
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.