Last week was a show dedicated to a Pastor of a small church in Florida who was promising to burn Korans as a way of marking 9/11. Nine years ago, 19 terrorists hijacked four domestic flights in the United States of America.
One of these planes was flown directly into the Pentagon, which is the headquarters of the American Department of Defence. Another plane crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania as passengers attempted to wrest control from the terrorists within the plane, it is said that it was flying towards the nation’s capital city, Washington DC, to crash into one of the several national symbols within the city.
The other two planes were flown and crashed into the World Trade Centre towers in New York City. The attack on the towers resulted in the highest number of casualties, about 2700 from 70 different countries, and received the most media coverage. The site where the towers once stood was subsequently named ‘ground zero’.
For a few months now, there has been controversy surrounding the proposed construction of an Islamic Centre just next to ground zero. Proponents of the construction cite America’s right to worship as enshrined in their laws while opponents say that as the attack on the towers was in the name of Islam then anything dedicated to Islam in the immediate vicinity is sacrilegious, disrespectful to victims and their families, the Saudis would never allow a church in Mecca so Americans should similarly reciprocate and that putting up this centre would be handing victory to the very people who supported the attacks in the first place.
This controversy continued last Saturday where after the commemoration ceremonies for the victims of terror on that fateful morning, vocal protests for and against the construction of the centre were held. I read that the area where it would be constructed is currently being occupied by adult entertainment shops. The owners must surely be surprised at the day when many people would prefer them over a religious establishment.
If the construction of the Islamic Centre (which opponents of the project have now resorted to calling a ‘mosque’) was controversial, Pastor Terry Jones’ announcement that he and his 30-person strong congregation would mark 9/11 with a Koran roasting was pure dynamite.
The commander of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, General Petreaus warned that such an action would endanger the lives of American soldiers serving in Afghanistan given how sensitive Muslims are about what they consider attacks on their faith.
Anyone who followed the reactions to stories of American soldiers machine gunning Korans or interrogators at Guantanamo flushing the same book down toilets will remember the outrage.
For a week, the Pastor insisted that the Korans would be burnt as he considered Islam, ‘the devil’s work’. From a tragedy brought about by an extremist and intolerant world view, the Pastor chose to sink to their level and fight it within an intolerance of his own.
While the anger that forms the basis of this willingness to offend a whole faith is understandable, as a man whose profession is to teach the love of Christ, one would have hoped for more Christ-like behaviour. September 11th should be a grim reminder of what any belief or view taken to its extreme can result into.