Former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold is known for taking on monumental challenges. In 2001 he was the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act. These days, Feingold has turned his attention to another cause—US foreign policy. At a talk in Madison, Wisconsin, about his new book, While America Sleeps, Feingold argued for increased American engagement with the rest of the world. He said 9/11 highlighted the importance of engaging and understanding the rest of the world, and criticized Democrats and Republicans alike for failing to heed the message.
In making his case, Feingold, a Jewish-American, did not lose sight of domestic issues, pointing out the impact 9/11 had on the lives of Muslim Americans. He likened the situation to Japanese internment during World War II.
In the last couple of years, there have been a number of incidents where people have used the issue of alleged Muslim extremism in this country to justify things like outlawing a mosque in Southern Manhattan, the burning of Qur’ans and most despicably, hearings held by Peter King in Washington specifically focusing on so-called Muslim terrorism, as opposed to the terrorism phenomenon in general.
Feingold bemoaned the fact that the post-9/11 era has made Muslims feel like second-class citizens in their own country.
Their hope is that they can once again someday feel like they’re not strangers in their own country. … Naturally, it must be very frustrating for Muslims to have their religion characterized in a way that is essentially wrong. Islam is not a religion of the kind that’s described by the political opportunists in this country.
The thing that really angered them was that we spoke of the virtues of democracy and human rights and women’s rights, and yet we supported despots throughout the Islamic world who did just the opposite. … Even though it’s not specifically about the religious element, it’s a very significant thing in terms of the way American Muslims and Arabs think about our international policy.
Nayantara Mukherji is a journalist, editor, Inside Islam radio producer, and a recent addition to the Inside Islam writing team at the University of Wisconsin.
Terry Jones is a crackpot “Reverand” who gained infamy by publicly burning the Qur’an.
Last year Jones was denied a permit to protest on Good Friday in front of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan, prompting howls of protest all across the looniverse. Anti-Muslim bigots accused the court of subverting the US Constitution and caving in to Sharia.
“We, as caring neighbors in southeastern Michigan, stand together in condemning the actions of those who spew hate and fear, and who misuse and desecrate holy books of faith.”
Before and during the rally, hundreds of people signed a 50-foot-long banner that exhorted them to oppose Jones and remember the best parts of their faith. Jones was briefly jailed and banned from returning to the mosque for three years.
This year, a Michigan judge overturned the decision to ban Jones, and the “Reverend,” dressed in a dapper black leather ensemble and sporting a carefully trimmed fu manchu, delivered an impassioned speech about the grave danger Islam poses to America–to all 20 of his supporters.
Speaking today in front of the biggest mosque in Michigan, the Florida pastor known for burning the Quran blasted Islam and called upon Americans to take back their country.
“Islam has one goal — that is world domination,” said Terry Jones, wearing sunglasses, jeans and a faded black-leather jacket. “It’s time to stand up.”
Holding signs in English and Arabic that read “I Will Not Submit,” about 20 supporters cheered as Jones and his assistant spoke outside the Islamic Center of America, a Dearborn mosque that sits off Ford Road. Framed by the mosque’s minarets, Jones said he’s concerned that the growth of the Muslim population in metro Detroit and the U.S. will lead to the oppression of non-Muslims.
“Muslims, no matter they go around the world … they push their agenda on the society,” said Jones. “We must take back America.”
The mosque was placed on lockdown Saturday afternoon, with about 30 police cars from Detroit, Dearborn, Wayne County and Michigan surrounding the complex, which also includes several churches. Traffic in and out was prevented, disappointing some worshippers who were not aware of Jones’ rally and couldn’t access the mosque. During the anti-Muslim rally, an electronic billboard with the Islamic Center read: “Happy Easter.”
About 500 feet from Jones was a group of counter-protesters, some of whom were with an activist organization, By Any Means Necessary (BAMN). Police prevented them from approaching the grassy area in front of the mosque where Jones spoke. Muslim leaders had urged people not to attend the counter-protest. Unlike Jones’ last two visits to Dearborn, this one was uneventful with no arrests and no street clashes.
Jones said during his talk that he’s also concerned about the free speech rights of Americans. Over the past year, Jones has battled the City of Dearborn for the right to speak in front of the mosque. Last year, a Dearborn judge threw him briefly in jail and ordered him to stay away from the mosque for three years. That decision was later overturned by a Detroit judge.
Last month, the city asked Jones to sign a legal agreement before protesting. Jones then filed a lawsuit, prompting a Detroit federal judge to rule Thursday in his favor. Jones was represented for free in his battles with the city by the Ann Arbor-based Thomas More Law Center, a conservative Christian group established by Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan.
During the talk, some supporters of Jones made derogatory remarks and jokes about Muslims. When Jones criticized Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson during his speech, one supporter blurted out: “Throw ‘em in the pit with the Muslims.”
After the rally, supporters of Jones posed for photos in front of the mosque.
A crew from Real Catholic TV, a media outlet based in Ferndale that’s owned by a member of Opus Dei, was at the rally. Its host, Michael Voris, said he supports Jones’ right to free speech and some of his views. Jones, who was a pastor in Germany, said Europe is increasingly under the sway of Islamic law.
“There are whole sections of London ruled by sharia law,” Voris said. “I think there’s the potential to happen in the U.S. what has happened — and is happening — in Europe.”
Tim Voss, 64, of Wayne, said he came Saturday to support Jones because “sharia law is the most dangerous thing. We can’t have it in this country.”
Down the road, counter-protester Laura Dennis, 38, of Detroit, held up a sign that read: “God Loves Us All.”
Speaking about Jones, Dennis said: “This guy’s just a hate monger, no different from the Klan or a Nazi.”
NEW YORK – In the wake of the Koran-burning by troops at the United States’ Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, protests continue to escalate, and the death toll mounts. In the process, three US blind spots have become obvious.
One is that of the US media, whose coverage simply underscores – and amplifies – the stunning cluelessness that triggered the protests in the first place. Professional journalists are obliged to answer five questions: who, what, where, why, and how. But, reading reports from The Associated Press, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, among others, I searched exhaustively before I could form any picture of what had actually been done to the Korans in question. Not only did accounts conflict; none offered a clear notion of who had allegedly done what, let alone why or how.
Were Korans burned, as one US report had it, under the oversight of US military officials? Or were they brought by soldiers for incineration, as another version maintained, as part of a haul of “extremist literature” and prisoners’ personal communications, with Afghan workers alerting others at the base to the nature of the material?
These murky accounts – with no clear subjects or actions (The New York Times, incredibly, managed not to describe the burning at all) – reflect what happens when major news outlets appear simply to take dictation from the Pentagon.
The second US blind spot is the politicization of this terrible affront. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has called Obama’s apology a “surrender,” while another Republican contender, Rick Santorum, is offended that anyone is suggesting that the US should bear any “blame.”
This absence of perspective reveals the cultural ignorance that has turned recent US foreign interventions into political catastrophes. I, too, come from an Abrahamic religion, Judaism, which shares strong roots with Islam. In both faiths, sacred texts are treated as if they are, in a sense, living beings. Jews, too, give them “burials’ when they are too old to use, and treat them ritualistically while they are “alive,” using silver pointers to avoid profaning them with human hands, dressing them in velvet jackets, and kissing them when they fall to the ground.
Burning a conquered people’s sacred texts sends an unmistakable message: you can do anything to these people. As Heinrich Heine put it, referring to the Spanish Inquisition‘s burning of the Koran, “Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings.” Jews understand that very well: from the Inquisition to Cossack massacres to Kristallnacht, the aggressors destroyed Torahs as a logical and well-understood precursor to destroying Jews.
The third blind spot is almost too painful to bear having to address – which, on a charitable interpretation, might explain why not one mainstream US media report has done so: the burnings were not carried out on some street in Kabul, but at Bagram. That is, Korans were burned at a US facility that meets the dictionary definition of a concentration camp.
In 2009, Spiegel Online ran a portrait gallery about Bagram titled “America’s Torture Chamber.” In “The Forgotten Guantánamo,” it reported that 600 people were being held at Bagram without charge. All were termed “unlawful enemy combatants,” allowing the US to claim that they have no right to the protections of the Geneva Conventions. A military prosecutor said that, compared to Bagram, Guantánamo Bay was “a nice hotel.”
Indeed, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, invariably described in the US as “the self-proclaimed chief architect of 9/11,” told the Red Cross that at Bagram he had been suspended by shackles and sexually assaulted: “I was made to lie on the floor. A tube was inserted into my anus and water poured inside.” Another prisoner, Raymond Azar, testified that ten FBI agents had abducted him, shown him photos of his family, and told him that if he didn’t “cooperate,” he would never see them again.
The BBC collated testimony in 2010 from nine prisoners confirming that human-rights abuses continued at Bagram. The prisoners independently described “a secret prison” inside the prison, called “the black hole.” Prisoners were still being subjected at the time to freezing temperatures, sleep deprivation, and “other abuses.” One testified that a US soldier had used a rifle to knock out a row of his teeth, and that he was forced to dance to music whenever he needed to use the bathroom.
Another investigation confirmed similar allegations in 2010, and last month the BBC reported that Bagram’s prison population had reached 3,000, while an Afghan-led investigation found still more allegations of ongoing torture, including freezing temperatures and sexual humiliations.
Of course, since the US military can detain anyone in Afghanistan, and hold him or her without charge in these conditions forever, the entire country lives under the shadow of torture at Bagram. The Koran burnings are a potent symbol of that systemic threat.
So, while Obama should continue to apologize for the Koran burnings, we must understand that Afghans’ rage is a response to an even deeper, rawer wound. Obama should also apologize for kidnapping Afghans; for holding them at Bagram without due process of law; for forcing them into cages, each reportedly holding up to 30 prisoners; for denying them Red Cross/Red Crescent visits; for illegally confiscating family letters; for torturing and sexually abusing them; and for casting a pall of fear over the country.
The Koran forbids that kind of injustice and cruelty. So does the Bible.
Most American media accounts and commentary about the ongoing violent anti-American protests in Afghanistan depict their principal cause as anger over the burning of Korans (it’s just a book: why would people get violent over it?) — except that Afghans themselves keep saying things like this:
Protesters in Kabul interviewed on the road and in front of Parliament said that this was not the first time that Americans had violated Afghan cultural and religious traditions and that an apology was not enough.
“This is not just about dishonoring the Koran, it is about disrespecting our dead and killing our children,” said Maruf Hotak, 60, a man who joined the crowd on the outskirts of Kabul, referring to an episode in Helmand Province when American Marines urinated on the dead bodies of men they described as insurgents and to a recent erroneous airstrike on civilians in Kapisa Province that killed eight young Afghans.
“They always admit their mistakes,” he said. “They burn our Koran and then they apologize. You can’t just disrespect our holy book and kill our innocent children and make a small apology.”
Members of Parliament called on Afghans to take up arms against the American military, and Western officials said they feared that conservative mullahs might incite more violence at the weekly Friday Prayer, when a large number of people worship at mosques.
“Americans are invaders, and jihad against Americans is an obligation,” said Abdul Sattar Khawasi, a member of Parliament from the Ghorband district in Parwan Province, where at least four demonstrators were killed in confrontations with the police on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the protesters themselves continue to be shot, although most American media accounts favor sentences like these which whitewash who is doing the killing: “running clashes with the police that claimed the lives of another five Afghan protesters” and “in Nangarhar Province, two Afghans protesting the Koran burning were shot to deathoutside an American base in Khogyani District” and “protesters angry over the burning of Korans at the largest American base in Afghanistan this week took to the streets in demonstrations in a half-dozen provinces on Wednesday that left at least seven dead and many more injured.”Left at least seven dead: as As’ad AbuKhalil observed, “notice that there is no killer in the phrasing.”
It’s comforting to believe that these violent protests and the obviously intense anti-American rage driving them is primarily about anger over the inadvertent burning of some religious books: that way, we can dismiss the rage as primitive and irrational and see the American targets as victims. But the Afghans themselves are making clear that this latest episode is but the trigger for — the latest symbol of — a pile of long-standing, underlying grievances about a decade-old, extremely violent foreign military presence in their country. It’s much more difficult to dismiss those grievances as the by-product of primitive religious fanaticism, so — as usual — they just get ignored.
UPDATE: Beyond all these points, it’s perversely fascinating to watch all of this condescension — it’s just a book: who cares if it’s burned? – pouring forth from a country whose political leaders were eager to enact a federal law or even a Constutional amendment to make it a criminal offense to burn the American flag (which, using this parlance, is “just a piece of cloth”). In fact, before the Supreme Court struck down such statutes as unconstitutional in 1989 by a 5-4 vote, it was a crime in 48 states in the nation to burn the flag. Here is what Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote in dissent about why the Constitution permits the criminalization of flag burning (emphasis added):
The American flag, then, throughout more than 200 years of our history, has come to be the visible symbol embodying our Nation. It does not represent the views of any particular political party, and it does not represent any particular political philosophy. The flag is not simply another “idea” or “point of view” competing for recognition in the marketplace of ideas. Millions and millions of Americans regard it with an almost mystical reverence, regardless of what sort of social, political, or philosophical beliefs they may have.
Might one say the same for Muslims and the Koran? Along those lines, just imagine what would happen if a Muslim army invaded the U.S., violently occupied the country for more than a decade, in the process continuously killing American children and innocent adults, and then, outside of a prison camp it maintained where thousands of Americans were detained for years without charges and tortured, that Muslim army burned American flags — or a stack of bibles — in a garbage dump. Might we see some extremely angry protests breaking out from Americans against them? Would American pundits be denouncing those protesters as blinkered, primitive fanatics?
Remember Terry Jones, the mustachioed clown of a pastor who created a furor over burning copies of the Quran? Mr. Jones has decided to throw his hat into the ring and run for President of the United States. He will be running as a Republican (surprise, surprise) and laid out a seven point plan, which includes deporting 20 million illegal aliens.
Many have scoffed at his announcement, but is he any less absurd a candidate than many other GOP contenders who are running on the anti-Muslim platform? The Republican party is full of candidates trying to use Islamophobic rhetoric to woo right-wing voters. These include hopefuls like Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Herman Cain. This article by Sheila Musaji on The American Muslim, entitled The GOP Has Declared War on American Muslims, is worth reading.
Maybe Herman Cain can run Terry Jones as his vice president. Then, they can offer a great deal on burning Qurans: burn the first Quran for $9.99, next Quran is on us!
Certainly, Terry Jones’ seven point proposal is more reasonable than Herman Cain’s 9/9/9 pizza plan. In fact, one of Terry Jones’ seven points is to reduce military spending. Number three in his seven point plan is:
Reduce military spending: All military on foreign soil should be brought back immediately and all future involvement of military on foreign soil should not be engaged until our country has become economically strong again. The security of our nation must be reexamined and our military spending must be cut by several billion dollars.
Is it possible that a right-wing uber-Islamophobe just said something more reasonable about foreign policy than most of the rest of the candidates, including Barack Obama himself?
Terry Jones, the Quran-burning pastor from Florida, is to lead a three-hour rally against Islam today at Dearborn City Hall followed by a 2-mile walk to the Arab International Festival, where he will further speak out. The three-day festival is the largest outdoor gathering of Arab Americans in the U.S. and is held in Dearborn, known for its sizable Muslim population.
Jones, who led a rally at City Hall in April, gained worldwide attention for his threats to burn the Quran last year on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He didn’t go through with it, but he led a Quran-burning in Florida in March. He tried to protest outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn in April, but a jury ruled he would likely breach the peace, thwarting his plans. Jones has appealed that decision, which was criticized by the ACLU and some constitutional law experts as an infringement of his free-speech rights.
Jones said the decision was an example of sharia, or Islamic law, coming to America, which he said is a growing threat. Today, Jones plans to speak out against sharia again as part of a five-point plan he said will help fight Islam. One point calls for the “monitoring of all mosques to assure that they are places of worship and not of Islamic propaganda.”
Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly Jr. has said repeatedly that the city has never implemented sharia.
In a letter sent this week to residents, O’Reilly said Jones and his supporters “are coming here to promote the concept that Islam is a false faith and that Muslims by teaching and nature are violent. We know that there is no substance to their message — their goal is to promote fear and hatred in others.”
Referring to Jones supporters, O’Reilly said he is urging the public to “ignore them and their empty words. Their goal is to bait and anger us so that they can then misrepresent who we are in order to serve their personal agenda.
“Debating them and confronting them at this event or in our city can produce no positive result for us.”
Boca Raton officials have condemned a man’s plan to shred a Quran in a downtown park on Memorial Day, but say they cannot stop the event.
“On behalf of the Mayor and City Council and the city administration, we find the prospect of the deliberate desecration of a sacred text to be abhorrently offensive. We request that you not proceed with this act,” Deputy City Manager George Brown wrote Wednesday in a letter to Mark Rowley, who requested a permit to hold the event in Sanborn Square.
City officials determined that the event does not require a permit because it is a free-speech action, Brown wrote. Rowley’s initial request, to burn a Quran in the park, was denied because the city prohibits fires in parks.
When LSU graduate student Benjamin Haas planned to burn the U.S. flag to protest the clamping down of civil liberties and the right of due process for “students and suspected terrorists alike”, an angry mob of over 1,000 people came out to stop him. Haas “sustained physical and verbal taunting” and in fact received numerous death threats. Had the police not been there to protect him, Haas might have been seriously hurt. (Haas backed down from burning the flag.)
Here’s a video of the despicable mob (hint: any time you see Americans wrapped in the flag chanting “USA! USA! USA!” more often than not they are war-mongers):
But how on earth could those Primitive Muslim Barbarians get so angry when the Quran is burned or the image of the Prophet Muhammad is depicted in an offensive way?
This angry mob of American “partriots” lost its mind over a 5 by 8 foot piece of cloth. That certainly sounds stupider than being upset at someone from a “rival” religion for burning one’s holy book.
Being the uber-liberal that I am, I naturally support the right to burn a flag, a holy book, or a blunt. (However, my belief in tolerance and good manners would prevent me from supporting a person who burned a flag or holy book. There is a difference between supporting a person’s right to do something offensive on the one hand, and supporting the offensive act itself on the other.)
This video should explain to incredulous Americans why Muslims in the Islamic world get so riled up when they hear about Americans burning the Quran or disparaging the image of their prophet. The U.S. flag is not just worth its material value (a piece of cloth) but rather has far greater symbolic value: burning it is a symbolic assault on one’s American identity. It’s a purposeful provocation. Likewise, the images of Muhammad were not “just cartoons”; they were a symbolic affront to their Islamic identity, a purposeful provocation and incitement. It seems to confirm what the Muslims already suspect: they are being attacked, occupied, and killed for their religion.
The burning of the U.S. flag occurred in a certain context: it happened around the emotional time of Osama Bin Laden’s assassination. Had this flag burning taken place twenty years ago, it would likely not have evoked much reaction. But in the context of the War on Terror, the flag burning serves to affect Americans on a deeper level. (Considering that I think the U.S. is waging a War ofTerror, I don’t get my panties in a bunch by flag burning. That is, after all, the same flag that is so proudly planted on the ground of those whose lands we illegally occupy–so, while I certainly don’t condone it, I could understand why people would want to burn it.)
Likewise, the violence in the East sparked by symbolic offenses against Islam in the West come in a certain context: they occur in a time in which the United States is waging multiple illegal wars against several Muslim countries, occupying their lands, and killing hundreds of thousands of Muslims. If Bin Laden, who has killed three thousand Americans (and that too over ten years ago), could evoke such a visceral reaction from Americans at LSU, just imagine the reaction if Muslims had committed a yearly or monthly 9/11 since 2001? How do you think Americans would react to flag burning if Muslim terrorists had killed not 3,000 but 300,000 U.S. citizens? This is the level of death and destruction that our military afflicts in the lands of the Saracen barbarians.
No doubt the Islamophobes will react by arguing that one simply can’t compare the LSU mob with what happens in the Islamic world (actual violence and death, not just water balloons and chest thumping). But to this, I say: the angry mob would most likely have hurt Haas had the police not been there–and he did receive numerous death threats. But beyond that, our country is not being militarily occupied by an enemy, nor are hundreds of thousands of Americans being slaughtered. If Americans had blood lust in their eyes after 9/11 (the nation reacted by waging multiple illegal wars that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents), one can only imagine the hypertrophied reaction that angry mob would have had if we had been at the losing end of a war against us.
Lastly, I’d like to comment on what the belligerent U.S. soldier said to Benjamin Haas: “My brother died for you!” , a phrase he repeated multiple times. This of course is a common refrain used by U.S. “patriots”: whenever uber-liberals like myself are protesting America’s wars and the military complex, they will say, “you should thank us for defending your right to do so.” That’s a load of hog-wash, of pure propaganda. By invading and occupying Muslim lands, the military has done absolutely nothing to protect my own freedom and liberty. Had the U.S. not invaded or attacked Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, etc., does anyone here think I wouldn’t be free any more?
If anything, our wars abroad have served only to curtail our civil liberties (refer to Glenn Greenwald’s excellent column on Salon.com). Furthermore, these wars of ours take away from the Muslim populations their right to self-determination, of liberty and the right to be free from military occupation. How is my right to freedom being supported by taking away the freedom of Muslims abroad?
The sad truth is that America’s young men are dying not “for you”, or for me, or for Benjamin Haas–but for nothing. For worse than nothing. That’s one of the reasons our chicken-hawk leaders who order these wars (but don’t fight them) should be stopped from doing so and held accountable.
As the great Muhammad Ali put it: “I ain’t got no quarrel with the Vietcong.”
After recounting some of the routine killings of Muslim children in just the last few days (what’s another few Muslim children killed?), Glenn Greenwald says:
Just imagine the accumulated hatred from having things like this happen day after day, week after week, year after year, for a full decade now, with no end in sight — broadcast all over the region. It’s literally impossible to convey in words the level of bloodthirsty fury and demands for vengeance that would arise if a foreign army were inside the U.S. killing innocent American children even a handful of times, let alone continuously for a full decade.
Some right-wingers have criticized me for “defending” Benjamin Haas’ right to burn the U.S. flag, while not doing the same for Pastor Terry Jones’ right to burn the Quran. One right-wing nut job said: “to LoonWatch.com it’s speech that’s only their speech being protected.” Moving beyond this right winger’s poor command of the English language (WHY DON’T THESE DAMN IMMIGRANTS LEARN ENGLISH!), it’s just a completely false accusation to begin with: I have clearly said in the article above:
Being the uber-liberal that I am, I naturally support the right to burn a flag, a holy book, or a blunt.
Perhaps he not only has poor grammar but also poor reading comprehension. In any case, believing in freedom of speech means protecting the right of speech one considers offensive and even odious. Therefore, although I dislike the idea of burning flags or books (holy books in particular), I believe it is part of freedom of speech to allow it. This is why I supported Glenn Greenwald’s article against banning the right to burn the Quran. (Like Greenwald, I believe this whole “we can’t burn the Koran because then those crazy Muslims will kill us” was a smokescreen to hide the real reason “why they hate us”: namely, because we kill them, bomb them, and occupy them.)
I support Terry Jones’ right to burn the Quran as I do Benjamin Haas’ right to burn the U.S. flag, even while I dislike both actions. This does not mean, however, that I believe there is a moral equivalence between Terry Jones and Benjamin Haas. Pastor Jones is a mustachioed clown, an uneducated hick of the most vulgar sort, with absolutely nothing to give this world but hate, ignorance, and intolerance. On the other hand, Benjamin Haas is a thoughtful, educated, and tolerant young man, as his intelligent speech indicates.
One reader commented about Benjamin Haas:
He’s still an idiot just like Terry Jones was.
I beg to differ. While I don’t ever support flag burning, Benjamin Haas–from what little I have read of his writing–seems like a bright young man. He’s certainly not to be compared to the ignoramus that is Terry Jones. Furthermore, unlike Terry Jones who did go through with his Quran-burning, Benjamin Haas did not go through with the flag-burning (much to the adulation of the right-wing) and decided instead to simply give a speech. How then can we compare the two?
Additionally, even though I dislike burning flags, it is less offensive to me than burning holy books. This does not simply apply to the Quran. For example, I would find it much more offensive to burn the Talmud than to burn the Israeli flag. Burning flags has always been a form of protest, whereas burning holy books has a very dark history. Where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also. And historically, where they burned holy books, religious pogroms were not far behind.
Update: As’ad Abu Khalil mentions that the portion about the supposed death threat against Jones from Hizbollah is a fabrication:
Seeking fame and publicity, kooky pastor, Terry Jones said that Hizbullah put a bounty on his head. It is made up. There is no evidence of that whatsoever. But then again: you can say anything about Muslim and Arab organizations and you don’t need proof, especially if those organizations are opposed to Israel. Like if I say that Hamas stole my car here in California, the media would report that and would not even bother with asking me to provide evidence.
DEARBORN — Pastor Terry Jones preaches the Gospel for a living, but the second holiest day in Christianity just slipped his mind.
The Quran-burning provocateur, who is expected to protest in Dearborn next week, said he didn’t realize before he committed to coming here that the protest is planned for Good Friday.
“This might be hard to believe,” Jones said, “but honestly we didn’t realize (it was Good Friday) or that Sunday was Easter.”
Oversight now recognized, Jones said he still plans on coming and that he would be traveling with about five associates for the protest, which tentatively is planned for outside the Islamic Center of America. The location, he said, was chosen because of its symbolism as one of the largest mosques in North America.
The protest originally was organized by a Port Huron militia group known as “Order of the Dragon,” but has very much become the Terry Jones-show since he announced his intention to join.
Asked whether he thinks Dearborn’s Muslim community is jihadist or wants to institute Sharia – Islamic law similar to Christianity’s Canon law – Jones said he is uncertain.
“I don’t know Dearborn’s Muslims so I can’t say,” said Jones, who acknowledges never having read the Quran. “But when you see what’s happening in Europe in Muslim-dominated countries, it wouldn’t surprise (me).”
Jones has said in press statements about the protest that he has no problem with Muslims or Islam; rather the extremist interpretation terrorist groups have embraced. He does, however, say he disagrees with Sharia, saying, “it discriminates against women.”
Jones’ small Gainesville, Florida-based church, Dove World Outreach Center, gained notoriety last fall for widely condemned plans to burn Qurans on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Facing pressure to cancel the event coming from as high up as President Barack Obama, the plan was scrapped. But in late March Jones put the Quran “on trial.”
With his congregants as jury, the holiest book in Islam was found guilty and the sentence was burning.
While the media largely ignored the event, Jones and others released videos of the burning online. The imagery sparked widespread violence against Western forces in Afghanistan and numerous death threats against Jones, including a $2.4 million bounty issued by the Lebanese paramilitary group Hezbollah, which is designated a terrorist organization by the United States government.
“We get the threats and we pass them along to the FBI,” he said.
As for the violence Jones’ stunt precipitated, he said he doesn’t bear responsibility.
“Yes, we were warned,” he said of the exhortations against burning the Quran for fear it might provoke violence.
“But there is no excuse for what happened in Afghanistan, and we do not believe we are responsible. People are responsible for their own actions. If anything this proves there is a radical element to Islam.”
Jones is aware his trip to Dearborn is being met mostly with opposition. Interfaith leaders from across Metropolitan Detroit have criticized his plans and at least six groups have formally requested permits for counterdemonstrations, Police Chief Ronald Haddad said.
“We know there will probably be a lot more people there against us than for us,” said Jones, who was unsure how many more people would join him aside from the group he is traveling with.
Also still unclear is whether the protest will even be granted the necessary permit. Haddad, who is responsible for determining whether a demonstration permit is granted or not, previously said he hoped to have a decision by Friday. But because of the numerous counter-protest permit requests and other new, undisclosed developments related to the event, Haddad said he now hopes to have his decision by early next week.
“There are some late developments that we need to take into consideration,” said Haddad. “My primary concern is security and making sure everyone is safe.”
Undoubtedly playing into Haddad’s decision is that Altar Road, where the Islamic Center is located, will be bustling with activity that day. In addition to the mosque, Altar Road is home to several Christian churches that will be holding Good Friday services.
J. Patrick Pepper covers public safety and politics in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights as well as Dearborn government affairs. He can be reached at (734) 246-2702 or at email@example.com.
Crazy old Terry Jones went ahead with his Qur’an burning which he dubbed as an “International judge the Koran Day” after he said he wouldn’t “burn a Koran.” 30 people showed up and they burnt one Koran…and then…everyone went home.
GAINESVILLE, Florida — A controversial US evangelical preacher oversaw the burning of a copy of the Koran in a small Florida church after finding the Muslim holy book “guilty” of crimes.
The burning was carried out by pastor Wayne Sapp under the supervision of Terry Jones, who last September drew sweeping condemnation over his plan to ignite a pile of Korans on the anniversary of September 11, 2001 attacks.
Sunday’s event was presented as a trial of the book in which the Koran was found “guilty” and “executed.”
The jury deliberated for about eight minutes. The book, which had been soaking for an hour in kerosene, was put in a metal tray in the center of the church, and Sapp started the fire with a barbecue lighter.
The book burned for around 10 minutes while some onlookers posed for photos.
Jones had drawn trenchant condemnation from many people, including US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, over his plan to burn the Muslim holy book in September.
He did not carry out his plan then and vowed he never would, saying he had made his point.
But this time, he said he had been “trying to give the Muslim world an opportunity to defend their book,” but did not receive any answer.
He said he felt that he couldn’t have a real trial without a real punishment.
The event was open to the public, but fewer than 30 people attended.
Life in the normally quiet city of Gainesville is centered around the University of Florida. And while there were public protests against Jones’ 9/11 activities, this event was largely ignored.
Jadwiga Schatz, who came to show support for Jones, expressed concern that Islam was growing in Europe.
“These people, for me, are like monsters,” she said. “I hate these people.”
Jones said he considered this event a success.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said.