Where they burn books, they will also, in the end, burn people.
— Heinrich Heine
In case you’ve somehow missed it, there’s a paster in Gainesville, Florida who is planning to hold “Burn a Koran Day” on September 11th – this Friday. (The link there is to a sort of advertisement that he broadcasted for the day; you can also see a parody video ad that links between Terry Jones and fellow hatemonger Fred Phelps.)
Not only is this Friday the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, but something Jones fails to mention – at least in this particular video – is that Friday is also likely to be Eid ul-Fitr, the day of celebration following the month of Ramadan for Muslims.
What this pastor really doesn’t seem to get is that events like the terror attacks of 9/11, and the scary thing is that his point of view isn’t exactly a tiny minority opinion. According to a Washington Post article:
About a third of the country now believes that mainstream Islam encourages violence against non-Muslims, while 54 percent see the religion as peaceful. The percentage seeing it as peaceful has varied little over the past nine years, but the percentage saying they believe it encourages violence is about double what it was in 2002.
Frankly, that scares me.
I’m also very much willing to bet that most of the people who will take part in this “Burn a Koran Day”, as well as many of the Americans who believe that “mainstream Islam” encourages violence, have never actually read the Qur’an or had an honest and open conversation with a Muslim.
This pervasive attitude is an important part of the reason why I decided to host the month-long Ramadan Reading event that’s wrapping up this week here at Reading Through Life. For people to get along peacefully, they need to understand each other; to understand each other, they must learn about each other.
Burning books will not teach anybody anything except hatred and censorship. At least one organization is calling for people to read books, not burn them – and I would like to join in and spread that call. I hope that you will, too.
One of the most important things that I think Americans – especially those like Jones – need to realize is that 9/11 didn’t just hurt non-Muslims. Terrorists don’t represent most Muslims, and they don’t just target “infidels”. Terrorists only think that they are doing God’s will; the same could be said about the Crusaders, the Nazis, and the KKK. Just because someone says that they have a certain intention doesn’t necessarily mean that their intention is truthful and/or valid.
There’s a couple videos that I’d like to share with you. The first is a PSA about 9/11 from CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations). You can also take a look at other videos in the series. The second video is called “My Faith, My Voice”. I first saw it a week or so ago, and I think that it’s really something that’s useful in the political climate of the last few weeks/months/years.
In the end, I’d like to leave you all with a simple thought:
Burning books is never okay, even if it’s a Qur’an.
(or Torah, or Bible, or anything else)
This post is a part of the Ramadan Reading event happening here this month.
You can find other posts in the series by clicking on the image to the right, or by taking a look at the schedule of posts and reviews.