'Burn Quran Day' an outrage to Muslims
By Akbar Ahmed, Special to CNN, August 20, 2010
Editor's note: Akbar Ahmed is professor and Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington. He is author of "Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam," Brookings Press 2010.
(CNN) -- In less than a month, Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida plans to host "Burn a Quran Day" to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
The pastor, author of the book "Islam is of the Devil," is using the burning to urge American Christians to "stand up" to what he describes as a monolithic Muslim threat. A Facebook page for the event has accrued thousands of "likes" and Jones has said people have been mailing him Qurans to burn.
As a Muslim scholar, an adherent of one of the Abrahamic faiths -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- and as someone committed to interfaith understanding, I urge Jones to cancel this event. Not only are the actions of Jones contrary to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, but they are also against the ideals of the American Founding Fathers.
The planned burning has already caused alarm in the Muslim world, with the pre-eminent Sunni university, Al-Azhar in Cairo, Egypt, condemning it as "stirring up hate and discrimination."
At a recent dinner in Washington, a host for one of Pakistan's top TV channels confided in me that he "didn't dare" report the story because if he did, "not a single American would be safe in Pakistan." He and the cameraman were quivering with anger as they asked me to explain why Americans hated Islam.
I tried my best to explain this was not the case, but Jones' burning will have great symbolic significance to a Muslim world already feeling under attack by the United States. It will cause undue harm to U.S. relations with the Muslim world and particularly the war effort.
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