Qur’an Burning Pastor Is Not Responsible For Afghanistan Murders

On March 20, 2011, Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach in Gainesville, Florida, presided over a mock trial of the Muslim holy book, the Qur’an. Twelve members of his congregation, serving as jurors, found the Qur’an guilty of inciting rape, murder and terrorism. Pastor Jones then switched roles from Judge to executioner, of sorts, and carried out what he and his congregation deemed appropriate justice. Terry Jones and his small group of followers burned a Qur’an.

On March 21, 2011, Der Spiegel, a German magazine, published 3 of the reported thousands of horrific photos, and videos, taken by members of the US military ‘kill teams’ in Afghanistan posing with their murdered victims. Neither incident provoked immediate large scale reaction or demonstration in Afghanistan or any other Arab nation.

On Friday, April 1, 2011, the prominent Afghan cleric, Mullah Mohammed Shah Adeli, told his congregates in the norther Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif that Pastor Jones burning of the Qur’an is proof of Americas hatred for Islam. There is no report that the photos taken by the kill team, posing with murdered Afghani civilians, was ever mentioned. Mullah Mohammed Shah Adeli then entreated his followers to take to the streets and agitate for the arrest of Pastor Jones. He declared to his followers that “Burning the Koran is an insult to Islam, and those who committed it should be punished.”

His faithful followers left the Blue Mosque, recognized as one of Afghanistan’s holiest places, intent on carrying out that punishment. Apparently unable to find any Americans, the mob, estimated at as many as 20,000, descended on the United Nations compound where they killed twelve people, two of whom were reportedly beheaded. Although the crowd was carrying signs that read “Down With America” and “Death to Obama,” four Nepalese guards and three European UN staffers were killed as apparent proxy Americans.

The murderous rampage continued through Saturday bringing the current death toll to over 20 with as many as 70 being reported as injured.

Pastor Jones’ actions have been compared to ‘yelling fire in a crowded theater.’ This is not true. Crying fire in a crowded theater puts people in a situation where they are forced to act out of self defense. Being convinced that they are trapped in a burning room they are forced to choose between escape or burn. Their very survival has been threatened. This was not the case with the Afghanistan mob.

To compare the Afghanistan mob with the crowd in the theater is both erroneous and cowardly. Erroneous for the reason stated above, and cowardly because the Afghan mob is more appropriately compared to a bully. A bully will threaten to react violently if something is said that they don’t want to hear. Having the courage to say such a thing does not make one guilty of the bullies actions. Abdicating ones freedom of speech in the face of such bullying is nothing but cowardice.

Aside from the offensive nature of Pastor Jones’ actions, unless the Qur’an that he burned belonged to another, or unless the fire that he used violated any statutes or bi-laws, he committed no punishable act. Certainly nothing worthy of placing the value of ink and paper over that of 20+ lives.

The Muslim clerics could just have easily placed the Christian holy book on trial and found it guilty of the same offensives, and perhaps more, that the Qur’an was charged with. Furthermore, they could have foregone the burning of the Christian Bible and proven themselves superior to Pastor Jones and his hate filled ignorance. This was not their choice, and, unlike the people in the crowded theater, they had a choice. They chose violence. They chose to place a book, a stack of ink on paper, above human lives.

Fanatical fundamentalism from any religion is repulsive. Using violence to try and bully the entire world into submitting to ones religious doctrines and dogma is unacceptable. The Christians have done it throughout the centuries and still attempt it through either violence, as in Uganda, or through the legal and political system, as in America. Islam is a younger religion. Perhaps it is simply following the same path as Christianity minus the few hundred years difference since their respective inceptions. Regardless, the bullying must not be tolerated.

Pastor Jones, whether you agree with him or not, and I certainly don’t, was simply exercising his freedom of speech. No one was harmed, and no laws were broken. If you consider him wrong, and responsible for the murders in Afghanistan, because of the insult, or offensiveness, you must also condone the beating of an individual, by a bully, for saying something that the bully didn’t like.

The Afghan people that committed these atrocities, and the clerics that incited them to violence, are responsible for their own actions. Pastor Terry Jones is guilty of being an ignorant, hate-filled, fundamentalist. Mullah Mohammed Shah Adeli is guilty of inciting a crowd to violence and the members of the mob, that committed these horrible acts, are guilty of murder. And, anyone that wants to place the blame on a small town pastor in Florida, for the actions of violent religious fanatics in Afghanistan, is guilty of cowardice. The right to free speech is too important to surrender to bullies.

“Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense. True irreverence is disrespect for another man’s god.”

-Samuel Langhorne Clemens


19 Responses to Qur’an Burning Pastor Is Not Responsible For Afghanistan Murders

  1. seth April 3, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Its respect. If the pastor would have not burned their holy book, none of this would have happened. I’m sure if a muslim burned the bible, that pastor would freak out like them.

    • Liam Fox April 3, 2011 at 11:41 am

      You believe that the Pastor and his followers would have gone and killed some Muslims? Not sure that I see that happening, but regardless, even if you’re correct and that Pastor and his followers are as fanatical and murderous as those that killed the UN staff, whatever his reaction might be, it would be his choice, and the choice of his followers, and therefore their responsibility, not that of those that burned the Bible.

      The Bible, and the Qur’an, are only books. Books full of things written by men many, many, years ago. They are books full of cruelty, hypocrisy, contradiction, hatred, and lies; as well as some beautiful and timeless lessons that can teach and benefit. They are important historical and cultural works… but that is all.

      They are not worth killing over and are subject to the same criticism as anything else. They cannot cloak themselves in some sort of religious protection that permits violent and inappropriate responses, setting them above question, disagreement, dissent, or criticism. This is nothing more than a strategy of bullying to try to protect something that cannot withstand closer analyses.

      The Pastor burned a book, that’s all he did. The people in the mob in Afghanistan committed multiple murders. Fanatics and fundamentalists that continue to try to bully and threaten, in order to protect any theology that cannot stand on its own merit, are guilty of that crime. Those that cave to the bullying, even under the guise of calling it respect or tolerance, are guilty of cowardice and an offense to the freedom of speech.

  2. joetote April 3, 2011 at 11:39 am

    No brainer here. The people who committed the murders are in the end responsible, not some rabble rousing nutcase.

    And yet we have people here and in other countries informing us we should not and will not be allowed to exercise our constitutional freedoms under the guise of hate speech, intolerance or whatever one wants to call it! Burn a Koran, you will be charged with a hate crime. Burn the bible, that’s fine! Criticize Mohamed, you are a hater. Piss Jesus? That’s art!

    Why isn’t everyone in this country outraged? LOL! One can imagine the word outraged doesn’t quite fit what I feel about this nonsense !

    One doesn’t have to agree with the Terry Jones (the man is just another self-centered religious bigot) of the world but we sure as hell have to defend his right to do as he did. If I’m supposed to turn the other cheek when some commie bastard burns my flag, I sure as hell need to do the same in this and any other case! As much as I hate to admit it, he is correct on one thing. The idiocy we are now seeing over there does prove one of his points. The intolerance of these religious fanatics is beyond reason.

    One other thing here as long as I’m on my soapbox. It is high time the people of this country stand up for their ideals. If I want to draw a satiric cartoon of Mohamed with his virgin harems, that is my right in this country. Yet, we have a rabid element starting with our President that wants to take that and other sacred rights away form us! We have a press who is afraid to offend and as such will not publish the truth about so many things. Personally, I don’t care who worships what! But I sure as hell care when one infringes upon another, especially with violence

  3. Mark April 3, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    The scariest part is that you had to explain this at all. Why does such simple logic as you have written, seem so alien in our society? Shouting the obvious to the oblivious probably wont get any results…. but keep it up the future of our planet hangs in the balance. Mark

    • Liam Fox April 3, 2011 at 12:16 pm

      Thank you. Thank you. With the barrage of arguments I’m getting on Twitter I was starting to wonder. The religious right tends to agree with me for all the wrong reasons, or be defensive about anyone challenging religion of any kind, and many on the left seems to be misguided by a politically correct tolerance of intolerance. Causes me to seriously worry about the chance we have for a future of this planet, let alone the first amendment.

      • Winter April 4, 2011 at 7:10 am

        @Liam Fox

        I’m in the same boat as you. I was kind of confused because all of a sudden I was wondering why I was among the right-wing crazies on this issue and not seeing any with my views on the left.

  4. Alltheway April 4, 2011 at 12:17 am

    Is Theo Van Gogh responsible for his own murder? Is the artist of the prophet with a bomb in his turban responsible for those resulting damages?

    The Governor of Punjab, Mr Salman Taseer was murdered for suggesting that Islamic anti-blasphemy laws should be abolished…is he responsible for that?

    I say ‘No’ to each case. If anyone says Islam is a religion of peace, ask him what happened to Constantinople.

    • Liam Fox April 5, 2011 at 8:37 am

      …. and ask the Christians what happened to all of the Americas.

  5. RJ April 5, 2011 at 7:49 am

    I have to agree with you on this one mostly, however just because the trial occurred in via a church setting does not necessarily make him a hater or whatever, given the contents of the koran, along with the tenets of abrogation and all the other things that seem to eminate from the koran I think any rational court would find the koran guilty of inciting murder, rape and other assorted mayhem.
    The proof is in the pudding as the old saying goes, the reaction to the burning by tho ones who murdered in result to a perceived insult seems to prove the nature of the koran.
    You related your feelings when you called the burning “the offensive nature” of the act. Why is the burning if paper and ink offensive to you? I find no emotional response to burning a koran, bible, torah, talmud or newspaper.
    I also find it courious why you mention the “kill team” photos yet make no mention of the murder trials as a result of a few criminals in a military responsible for thousands of troops…
    Other than that excellent writing.

    • Liam Fox April 5, 2011 at 8:34 am

      Personally, I find the burning of any book offensive only in that it symbolizes the attempt to kill ideas, or thoughts, even if I don’t necessarily agree with them. I do not consider any books labeled as ‘holy’ to be better than any other books. I was simply recognizing that some may feel particularly offended by the act in order to point out that that offense does NOT give one the right to respond with a murderous rampage. Insulting someone does not equate to threatening them, and certainly does not justify a violent response.

      I mention the Kill Team photos because I found it unsettling that the killing of innocents, apparently as ‘big-game’ hunting, was not identified as the reason for the rage. Rather, the burning of a stack of paper and ink was justification for multiple murders. The burning happened on March 20, the kill team photos published March 21 – yet, on April 1, the reason given for the mass murder was the burning, not the kill team photos.

      The Christian Bible could no more withstand such a trial, and such charges, than the Qur’an did. While either one may provide people with reasons to exclude, hate, or even murder… and both have… the responsibility still rests with the individuals. The Qur’an is no more ‘responsible’ for the murders than the Bible was for the murders that Christians have committed when using it as an excuse. They are just books: contradictory, erroneous, and indefensible books. People make the choices of how to interpret them and use them as a supposed ‘authoritative’ excuse for their actions.

  6. RJ April 5, 2011 at 9:14 am

    I’m not convinced the burning was an attempt to kill ideas, as much as prove the allegations, maybe he is not quite as stupid as lots of folks are trying to implicate.

    lets face it if they had found the koran guilty and sentenced it to two years in a pine box covered in pig lard it would have likely provoked a similar response.

    I’m with ya on the thoughts that a book burn meant more than the grotesque photos of the soldiers and the fact the bible could not withstand such trial, although I would hesitate to say that recently no such fundamental christians have gone on state sanctioned or church santioned killing sprees.

    I find it even more unsettling tha a few of our polititions are calling for limiting free speech by implementing islamic blasphemy laws, That is truely scary.

  7. Liam Fox April 5, 2011 at 10:49 am

    I think homosexuals in Uganda may disagree with you about church and state sanctioned murders and atrocities… and it is members and leaders of American churches that are involved in that as well as the local fundamentalist Christian churches.
    As for your comment about Islamic blasphemy laws being implemented… in a de facto sense… that is exactly what is happening when first amendment free speech is limited… which amounts to prohibited b/c a limit on freedom of speech is censorship which is no longer freedom of speech.
    If we let bullies strip us of our rights by threatening and committing violence, we are cowards.
    To see an American general, Gen Petraeus, condemn the pastor, when it is his job to defend the rights and freedoms of Americans, turns my stomach. Although the pastor may be worthy of condemnation, that is someone’s first amendment right to do, to see a general do it, and not give equal condemnation to the murderers in the same speech, seems an abdication of his responsibilities and an act against the American people.
    To consider the pastor crass, or insulting, or provocative, or offensive is not the excuse. If free speech was not potentially so, it would not need protection. It is the pastor’s right to be crass, insulting, provocative, and offensive. That is why it needs protection and gets it in the constitution. It is Gen. Petraeus responsibility to protect that freedom from enemies foreign and domestic, not to condemn those that exercise it. In this case, Gen. Petraeus has proven himself to be a coward.

  8. RJ April 6, 2011 at 10:10 am

    If in fact homoesxuals are being persecuted to death in uganda and church sanctioned i stand corrected, was not aware church leaders were calling for and causing death of them, I second your feelings on Gen Betrayus, as far as I’m concerned he violated his oath of office and should be dismissed, but that aint gonna happen with obama in charge…or the current political yahoos calling for infringing on the first amendment.
    Of course it is no different than it has been for years, the leftist are just getting more noticed.

    • ANTIFA_Action April 6, 2011 at 11:50 am

      The entire American political establishment, both parties, are complicit in this. Eroding and practically removing rights may have started under past presidents, but they’ve continued, and continued to be expanded, under administrations from both parties… People were in the streets over Bush’s Patriot Act… Obama continued and expanded it…. where are the people in the streets?

  9. reply April 7, 2011 at 6:51 am

    assalam to all muslim am not happy with what happen on 11 march 20
    These people are not well they civilise they don’t even know what religion is?. That is why they born our great holy book.so 4 that God will destroye all their country amen .

  10. reply April 7, 2011 at 7:01 am

    the group of American burn our great holy qur’an . I do not see the reason why they did. It’s not allow in any religion to do that. So in any case we muslim must do something which means we would take an action. We ‘ll pray and wil answer it insha’allah to demolish their continent. ameen.

    • ANTIFA_Action April 7, 2011 at 3:20 pm

      Then you are just another murderer who worships a ‘holy book’ and has a religion that cannot stand up to criticism and therefore must respond with violent oppression. You, and your religion, and your holy book, are pathetic.

  11. Fingal April 8, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    Nothing excuses the murders. But religious lunatics over there don’t excuse the religious lunatics over here, either — both are to blame. Our lunatic, Jones, knew there were religious lunatics over there when he did the burning, and chose to do it anyway, of his own free will. The results were easily predictable, and easily avoidable. Jones is an ass.

    • ANTIFA_Action April 10, 2011 at 5:07 pm

      So, if a credible bully – meaning one with whom it is predictable that they will in fact respond in the violent manner they threaten – tells you not to exercise your free speech because it offends them you should give in like a coward? Do Americans only honor free speech that everyone likes or agrees with? Fricken Americans are too cowardly to hold on to the rights enshrined in their own constitution. If you think this pastor is in any way to blame for the actions of that violent mob, and that his, and therefore the rest of Americas, free speech should be curtailed to appease religious fundamentalist murderers in Afghanistan, you show no value for the rights you have. You should be ashamed. You’ve abdicated a freedom that others are willing to die for… just because some lunatics threatened you. Pathetic.

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