Burning books is never okay (yes, even if it’s a Qur’an)

September 9, 2010

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.

At this point, public reaction, government, military, and religious leaders, as well as public figures like Hillary Clinton and Angelina Jolie, have condemned Jones’ proposal.

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.

21 Comments

  • Misha Mathew September 9, 2010 at 6:30 am

    I love your post! I have seen Muslims in my country suffer and I hate all the bias. Terrorists have no religion!!! Why can’t there be acceptance and tolerance? Hatred and prejudice doesn’t get us anywhere.
    Misha

    • Carina September 16, 2010 at 2:47 pm

      Indeed, I definitely agree! Hatred is never the answer.

  • Helen Murdoch September 9, 2010 at 8:10 am

    Great post! The thought of “Burn a Koran Day” scares me to no end. I just don’t see what is wrong with people! They need an enemy to make themselves feel better and more “right”, when in reality all it does is hurt everyone involved. They are just making things worse all around. So much for Christian tolerance and acceptance

  • zibilee September 9, 2010 at 11:14 am

    I think it’s “Burn a Koran Day” is frightful and terrible. Thanks for sharing this with me.

  • Colleen September 9, 2010 at 11:23 am

    I actually just found out about this “Burn a Koran Day” yesterday and the thought of it sickens me. Not all Muslims are extremists. And while I am not a huge fan of the Muslim extremists, I also I don’t have a whole lot of love for Catholic or Baptist extremists, either.

    Seems to me that this dude is forgetting the whole “Do onto others” thing that any good Christian is supposed to follow. He would throw his head back and howl if a Muslim group decided to hold a “Burn the Bible day” so I don’t understand where he gets off promoting the burning of the Qur’an.

    People like this might want to remember that violent, hateful acts like 9/11 usually start off small and gain fire. Who’s to say that it wasn’t triggered by a book burning? And that’s what scares me the most: not the actual “Burn a Koran day”, but what could flow from it. :0(

    • Carina September 16, 2010 at 2:48 pm

      I’m actually really frightened by all the scariness that has come about because of this planned book burning. Even though it didn’t happen in the end, he still triggered a whole lot of craziness!

  • Amy September 9, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I can’t believe that they want to do that. In my opinion it is a huge act of hate – those people do not represent Christians in the same way that the terrorists do not represent Muslims. At the same time, I do with that Muslims around the world would understand that. In the same way that they say we aren’t them, I wish they could see that we aren’t them either! Know what I mean?

    • Carina September 16, 2010 at 2:49 pm

      Yup, I know what you mean! It’s scary to watch the news and see what’s happening now because of this. I think it’s just hard for people elsewhere to see that this guy is an anomaly, especially when the American (and world) media have given him so much attention.

  • Shelley September 9, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    I went to a book club recently and was surprised at how much anti-Muslim sentiment was voiced. It scared me a bit, and this burning of the Qur’an scares me even more. I hope that the event comes across and so heinous that people will stop and reflect how their own prejudices me be wrong. But I won’t hold my breath. Thanks for the post!

    • Carina September 16, 2010 at 2:50 pm

      I’m always surprised when a whole bunch of anti-Muslim sentiment comes up in conversation. It’s a bit easier for me now to face it, since I know more than I used to – but still.

  • Valerie September 10, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    I’m glad that the Quran burning has since been called off, but it’s so disturbing that people would even consider it.

    I am reminded of a recent USA Today article about Muslims who died in the 9/11 attacks; one was actually an EMT who went out to try to help. Here is the link to the article http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-09-03-1Amuslims911_CV_N.htm

    • Carina September 16, 2010 at 2:51 pm

      Apparently some isolated people still burned Qur’ans, but not in the large organized fashion that this guy wanted. CAIR (Center for American-Islamic Relations) has put out a bunch of public service announcements to do with Muslims who were affected by 9/11.

  • Valerie September 10, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    By the way, happy Eid!

    • Carina September 16, 2010 at 2:50 pm

      Thank you!

  • erisian23 September 11, 2010 at 1:52 am

    crossing my fingers someone repeatedly slaps some sense into that man before he begins tomorrow.

    .. for a religious man, he sure hasnt read his own texts.. else this wouldnt even be a discussion

    • Carina September 16, 2010 at 2:51 pm

      Mhm, on both counts. People like him are why it scares me that so many states have lenient gun laws.

  • Julie September 12, 2010 at 3:47 am

    Great post! Thanks for standing up for what you believe in – religious and racial tolerance. People like the “pastor” and I use the term loosely are disgraceful kooks. I’m so tired of the angry, racist and anti-Muslim rhetoric coming from the fringe and moderate conservatives in the US. As President Obama said yesterday, we are a nation under God, and we may call that God by different names, but we remain one nation. What happened on Sept 11th is awful, but many Muslims died on that day responding to victims and in the towers. Americans forget it was the “World Trade Center.” Muslims, are also, members of our military and fight to keep the freedoms we so preciously guard safe. Anyways…I can go on for days. I’ll get off my soapbox now. LOL

    No book should ever be burned! EVER!

    • erisian23 September 12, 2010 at 10:12 pm

      @Julie

      i agree with you for the most part.

      however, some printed books should be burned, so this is where we will deviate.

      Jerry Seinfeld’s 1993 book ‘Seinlanguage’ is one prime example…. burn them all

      🙂

      • Carina September 16, 2010 at 2:55 pm

        Hee hee. I don’t disagree that some books really suck, I just think that it’s desecration to burn the written word.

        • erisian23 September 16, 2010 at 3:36 pm

          agreed.. that is why i mentally burn every copy i see, though i would not burn an actual copy 🙂

    • Carina September 16, 2010 at 2:53 pm

      Bravo, thank you for your comments. 🙂

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