An International Controversy: Burning the Qurans

Posted: September 12, 2010 in COM 101 current issues

Thousands of Muslims around the world have taken to the streets to protest against threats by an obscure pastor in the United States to burn copies of the Quran on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the US, which have sparked international controversy.

Despite the church in question saying it would not go ahead with the plan, demonstrations have erupted in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Indonesia and the Palestinian territories

The threat by Terry Jones, the pastor of a small fringe church in Gainesville, Florida, to burn the Qurans had drawn international condemnation and a warning from Obama that it could provoke al-Qaeda suicide bombings and incite violence around the world.

“The idea that we would burn the sacred text of someone else’s religion is contrary to what this country stands for,” the US president told a news conference in Washington.

Other world leaders and international bodies have also denounced Jones’ plan to burn copies of Islam’s holy book on Saturday.

Moreover, General David Petraeus, the US commander in Afghanistan, warned that burning the Quran could endanger the lives of US troops who might become the target of retribution.

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, called on Jones to “not even think” about burning Qurans because “it was an insult to Muslim nations”.

Interpol, the international police agency, warned governments worldwide of an increased risk of “terrorist attacks” if the burning went ahead.

This current issue relates to the concept of various perspectives of communication discussed in class, specifically  social constructionist and cultural studies perspectives.

Social constructionist perspective defines communication as the key that surrounds people and holds their world together.  Moreover it is a process whereby people in groups, for example the Muslims use the tools provided by their culture to create collective presentations of reality through cultural traditions. Together the Muslim countries have come together on common grounds based on shared beliefs, attitudes, values, role and rules to protest against the burning of the Quran.

Moreover, the perspective of cultural studies also ties in because this issue suggests a close relationship between acts of communication and power amongst the Muslim nations- together the countries protested and imposed threats i.e. suicide bombings against the burning of the Qurans, and eventually by communicating through power, this outrageous act was not performed by the pastor.

I believe Terry Jones, may be insane, as some, including his own daughter, have suggested. But what excuse do sane and sophisticated people like Obama, Petraeus, and Robert Gates, the US secretary of defence, have?

The pastor who wants to avenge the September 11 attacks by burning the Quran will not only cause hundreds of bloody attacks in the United States but also throughout the world.  It is outrageous and disgraceful that a pastor with a church of no more than 50 people can make this distressful plan, and is willing to put the lives of innocent victims at stake.

On the contrary, I would think being a pastor, defines humanity- a person who cares about society’s well being, and promotes peace and harmony.  Hence it shocks me to come across a pastor who thinks and acts otherwise, and is willing to stoop so low, to seek revenge and indulge in such unjust and demoralizing act.  It is totally deplorable. It is an act of total defiance, and an uncivilized act that must be condemned by any rational thinking person.

I definitely agree with Obama that this act would provoke al-Qaeda suicide bombings and incite violence around the world at the cost of innocent victims, and I pray that President Obama and the U.S. government will be able to do something to prevent this from happening.

Throwing this out to all the bloggers, what do you guys feel about this controversial issue?

Please share your thoughts, ideas and concerns 🙂

  1. Mustafa says:

    Very interesting post.

    Its good to know that the US President and other high ranking people out there can see the difference and know what this guy is up to.

    First of all, it is important for the world to finally realize and get it through their heads that the “terrorist” attacks were not caused by Muslims but rather by “Islamist Extremists” and it seems that the word terrorist has become connected to Islam. Lets not forget Timothy McVeigh who blew up a federal building in Oklahoma and the things that happened in Northern Ireland, South America, Africa and the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka and various other groups in various other reions. Does anyone remember who killed JFK? yes.. that would be an act of terrorism too and guess what.. not a muslim and not even an “Islamist Extremist. .”

    Another thing is that, Muslim countries don’t get together and stage protests against such things. Its the so called religious leaders and political leaders which get their people all hyped up about it and in turn they end up protesting and killing thousands of their own people. Now as a Pakistani Muslim myself.. I dont see the logic behind it. How does it help the world understand Islam in any way if I go around burning my own buses and looting my own shops and protesting in the streets in my own country if some Pastor in some hick town in USA wants to burn the Koran. The way I see it, He should be punished by the state for attempting to create ethnic / religious violence among the people. USA was built on religious freedom and I believe early settlers of “the new world” only went there to avoid religious persecution. Is this the kind of intolerance being taught? That even a Pastor of a Church can do something so offensive. Theres many ways to make your own religion look good without making another one look bad. And people who can do that.. regardless of which ever faith they subscribe to, command respect and receive it. What kind of example is this guy trying to set?

    • soni1220 says:

      I agree with you Mustafa, it is sad that many of us fail to realize that Muslims do not define terrorism. Muslims do not breed terrorism, instead circumstances makes us do the things we do. Media is highly subjective and bias, and always highlights terrorism in middle eastern countries. I am sure there are acts of terrorism taking place in many parts of the world, but that always seem to escape the media, I wonder why as well? True, like what mustafa said, who is responsible for JFK’s death?

      I also agree with Mustafa that the pastor should be punished, to show the nation that the act that he wanted to commit is not tolerable and accepted in the United States, and that demoralizing another religion is unethical. Moreover, there are more chances for the Muslim nations to forgive United States of America, if they see the pastor being punished for his wrong doing. However if the pastor is left unpunished, I am afraid there could be severe consequences and this issue can take away many innocent lives.

  2. suhel manchanda says:

    I personally disagree with the pastor’s act, he is not healing the wounds of the victims. Instead his actions will provoke more terrorist attacks. Quran is holy book of muslims, just like the bible for a christian, Holy Geeta for the hindus, and Guru Granth Sahib for sikhs. Every religion i believe teaches us to become honest, caring and merciful. I believe that its not the religions faults, but there are secular or group of fundamentalist who create misunderstandings among people around the world. Its not a problem in the Untied states of america, but issues like September 11 are seen in other parts of the world too like jammu and kashmir(India), Israel and Palestine etc. I am sure people around the world do have rage against terroism and their acts. Burning of the Quran is not the solution to prevent terrorism, that would be an act of uncivilization. We live in a civilized world so we have to act in a civilized way,by bringing the culprits before justice. I am not a muslim but i believe to respect and understand others peoples values and culture. I am confident no holy book or any religion will teach their followers to conduct terrorist attacks or be in humane in taking innocent lives.

  3. Shareen says:

    The article is really interesting. I’m glad Obama stopped the burning from happening. It’s quite ironic that a pastor, who is someone who is supposed to spread peace and love and faith, has come up with such an idea. Even though it is understandable to be angry at the Muslim nations for the 9/11 bombings, burning something that is of such importance as the Quran is just as disrespectful and makes him no better than the terrorists. Also, it’s quite a selfish thing to do as even though he is entitled to his own opinion on the issue, he is being ignorant to the fact that this will surely provoke Muslim terrorists, including the Al-Qaeda, Jihad etc. who may, out of anger caused by this matter, perform more terrorist acts that will cause harm to many innocents around the world. Also, the fact that he is a pastor, which is a respectable figure, makes other people think behaving this way is alright, and this will provoke hatred towards many Muslims or Asians in the US.

    • soni1220 says:

      True, we as people of the world should not get all rattled up when stuff like this happens. If a dog is barking.. allow him to bark, he has the right to. The attention we give him, is the fuel he wants in order to prove his point. He probably thinks the more he offends Islam, the more attacks there will be.. Hence, more people coming towards Christianity? Well if He himself must resort to such tactics to sell his faith, then I think he should seek council from people such as Rev Run who was a musician turn Reverend and shows how one can be a balanced person.

      The truly sad thing here is that the pastor himself wants to stand up against extremism and terrorism.. but he doesn’t realize he himself is consumed by it and has become an extremist himself.

  4. Michael says:

    In america every talentless redneck wants his 15 minutes of fame, or in this case infamy and Terry Jones is one of them. Look, I already know his name – just what he wanted. The sad thing is that there are people in America who believe what this pastor is preaching – that all Muslims are terrorists and that Islam preaches terror.

    I however am not sure about your point that the Islamic nations communicated with each other and coordinated their release of statements (of condemnation). Try insulting any devoted Muslim’s religion wouldn’t they react with hostility? I believe it could be the case that there is a universal knee-jerk reaction to insults to one’s religion. This reaction is likely to be especially strong with Muslims, not because they are all terroists but because of the nature of their religion and its teachings.

  5. Manik says:

    It has caused a lot of debate and as you mentioned sparked racial conflicts around the world. First of all, you can’t call yourself a Pastor if you even entertain such thoughts about another religion. Preaching of a religion yourself and demeaning another? One word. Blasphemy. To burn a book which epitomises another religion in an attempt to condemn those who have misinterpreted it shows the level of understanding of this individual. Every religion may preach what it wants to, and every individual is entitled to their own views. It is inevitable, that any thing written down may bring about a hundred and one different meanings to different people.

    Those involved in the 9/11 attacks were an example of such individuals. They interpreted god’s message the way they wanted to. Extremists are what they are called, and there are no place for such people in our society. Burning the quran would put him on the same plane as them. An extremist. Terry Jones’s threat is simply obnoxious, and his positioning as Pastor is questioned. A god fearing man? Not at all i say.

    I would like to end of by just saying this. One may say all terrorists are muslims. But not all muslims are terrorists.

  6. Jaspreet Singh Narula says:

    I am a Sikh, and would find it very insulting and hurtful for someone to burn our holy book. Personally,i think this act is not just insane,it is also in humane. Terry Jones is not only aggravating Muslims, also Muslim extremists. Burning of their holy book will serve more devastating terrorist attacks not just in the United States Of America,but also their troops who are in Afghanistan. Everyone and every religion is right in their own way. It is not up to him to say that the Koran is evil. He thinks that burning of the Islamic holy book will stop terrorism.However, that is clearly not the answer. As of yet Muslims are being reminded everyday of what September 11th has done to their lives. Some Muslims are being ill treated even though they are born and raised American Citizens. Some Muslims come to America to get jobs to support their families back home. Innocent Muslims are being humiliated and disrespected almost everyday. They are suffering from what Muslim extremists have done. What Terry Jones is proposing will make Muslims not just hate going to America but also aggravate extremists to other harmful situations. He is not fit to be a Pastor for a Church. He himself is showing that he too is an extremist. We not only have to respect Muslims but also each and every religion. As every religion is sacred.

  7. Sruti says:

    I am shocked to read this article. How can people such as the pastor and his followers behave in such an immature manner? This act will definitely trigger more suicide bombings and terrorist attacks in the future. I strongly condemn it and feel that the above mentioned people need psychological treatment……..

    I understand the position of the respective heads of the nations, as this is a very delicate issue and one wrong step can lead to disastrous consequences…. Thus, cautious and tactful ways should be adopted to deal with this.

    A very well written and analysed post….I am glad that through such communication mediums we can raise awareness among people….Good Job..:))

  8. Amornthep Sachamuneewongse says:

    I have to agree with everyone who have commented earlier on. Every religion teaches us to be a good person and we should not tag all the muslims to be terrorists. If Terry Jones thinks that he can burn the Quran as a method of taking revenge from the 9/11 incident then he is wrong. The only thing that the act will do is to lead to even more tension among America and Muslims countries and many other countries that are against the act as well. We as Humans are given the gift of being able to think logically and yet we do not realize that. Wars are still going on and hatred is everywhere. We as Human, with our intelligence should act more humane, we should spread love and not hatred, we should work hard on making peace and not war, and most importantly we should learn to respect others and other’s faith. What Terry Jones was trying to do or what happened 9 years back was wrong but we should learn from it and not do any actions that may provoke even more tension.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I too feel that Terry Jones decision to burn a Quran is wrong. Every religion preaches to live in harmony and to be a good being. Burning the Quran is just going to create more turm-oil around the world and specially the USA. Just because there are a few Islamic terrorists it doesn’t mean that every muslim is a bad human being and deserve to have their holy book burnt. I would feel very insulted if my religions holy book was to be burnt just to teach my religion a lesson. It is wrong. I agree alot of muslims are suffering in the USA beacuse of the incident that occured 9 years ago. People need to act more mature in dealing with with such situations and burning the Quran is certainly not the solution.

  10. AlphaQ says:

    Taking away a possession, a belief, a ritual, an act, or even the Holy book of Quran is insanely unethical. I am not a Muslim, but personally, I have lived in a Muslim country for over a year. I can argue that the Holy book of Quran is most respected personal belongings for a true Muslim to carry and worship. To burn the Holy book of Quran is already an act of terrorism thought the mental thought of the general Muslim population. Every verse of the Quran is protected by Jins. I do not know much about them but have heard a lot and have been though some extraordinary situations during my time in a Muslim country.

    All i can say is respect others, and sooner or later, others will respect you.

  11. Barak says:

    I definitely found this whole controversy very interesting. When I first heard about it I could tell it would cause a stir but didn’t imagine it to gather such a response worldwide. It really shows how big a role media can play. In this case, Terry Jones, a nobody from nowhere with very limited influence was able to make headlines around the world.

    Being an American I have read post by my Muslim friends on places like facebook stating how they really dislike the United States, and how they would never go there if given the chance. These ill feelings towards an entire country populated with millions of diverse individuals are caused by one mans actions.

    I understand their feelings as its no light matter, but people have to realize there will always be people doing dumb things to get attention for themselves. His actions definitely do not represent the attitude or opinion of the general public.

    I definitely don’t feel he is living up to his role as a pastor as he is purposely causing controversy.

  12. Through this act, the pastor has clearly distorted the Christian teachings and beliefs of love and respect to one another, just because of his personal prejudices. He claims that he wants to take revenge for the people who have died nine years ago, but this action of burning the Qurans will not only not help take revenge, but also spark more hatred towards each other.

  13. Arthur says:

    i totally agree with everyone on how the pastor has gone crazy!how could you use someone’s religious book and treat it like nothing.he claims this will be the revenge for the people of 9/11..but however,this would cause a more uproar in the muslim community!this will give terrorist more courage to do more damage!he should clearly think before he speaks.

  14. Keehan Chew says:

    Well I think they have gone too far with their emotions..

    What do they get from burning the Qurans? – Nothing really, just personal satisfaction from taking revenge or something?…

    The act of vengeance will eat up their minds someday.

    Qurans aren’t the cause of the terrorist attack – most importantly.. I’d say that the pastor is either not smart enough or insane.

  15. YiiPun says:

    i don’t think this man deserves the word that “he’s one of the son of our lord though”…there is no such a word revenge in our Holy Bible…The only thing, for our christian, that we were taught is to love our humankin…d. we should love everything, love the love, love the sadness, love the accident even love the hate,,,because all of those feelings and actions bring us the changing in our life no matter in the better or worse way

    Christian won’t do sth like that…he claims he’s a Christian but for the true Christians, just like us, know he’s not because he has an evil mind not a holy mind like our lord give us to bless this world…

  16. ssm says:

    You will die in hell terry! what did the quran write that really pinched your head to burn the quran? No one has even dared to say or write such things! Seriously terry you act like an immatured citizen of United states! People like you dont deserve the position you are at! Go learn something about humanity first! Do correct if i have said something wrong?

  17. Poonam says:

    Truly inapproprburnt behavior! You must know how it feels when someone burns holy bible?

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