Burning Korans Inspires Hate

By Pranav Sehgal

Contributing Writer

As Americans in the 21st century, we like to think we are tolerant of other religions, cultures and ethnicities. We like to think we are a liberal, open-minded nation that places no judgment on people because of their background. This notion is certainly not true.

Recently, Terry Jones, a pastor of a tiny church in Gainesville, Florida, gained worldwide attention for his plan to burn more than 200 copies of the Koran to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and to protest the construction of an Islamic center near the World Trade Center site.

As one can imagine, this proposal sparked a great deal of controversy and widespread opposition to Jones’ plan from American officials, including General David Petraeus and President Obama. Petraeus, the top American commander in Afghanistan, argued Jones’ plan would “endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan” domestically and overseas.

I believe President Obama said it best when he stated such a stunt would result in a “recruitment bonanza for Al-Qaeda” and would endanger Americans domestically and abroad. Jones’ actions and comments have even resulted in the State Department issuing a worldwide travel alert, warning U.S. citizens “of the potential for anti-U.S. demonstrations in many countries.”

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the leader of efforts to build an Islamic center near the World Trade Center site, said proposed plans to burn the Koran by this small Florida Church would “strengthen the radicals,” “enhance the possibility of terrorist acts against America and American interests” and result in disaster. Demonstrations have already started taking place in Islamic countries such as Afghanistan, Indonesia and Pakistan. Recently in Afghanistan, a violent protest orchestrated by the Taliban in an effort to disrupt government elections left dozens of people injured in Kabul.

After weeks of threatening to burn Islam’s holy book, Jones backed off and stated the event would not happen. If the United States is to connect and continue our reconciliation with the Muslim world, I believe we have to be tolerant, understanding and above all, respectful.

Although I realize Jones’ beliefs and opinions account for a very miniscule portion of public sentiment, Americans should use this incident to reflect on how we can better understand a people with whom we have had conflicts.

The media is also at fault for escalating the situation and giving so much attention to this one intolerant, misguided and uninformed person. If the media gave so much attention to everyone with such a radical idea and incendiary thoughts, our world would be filled with chaos. Americans, the media and citizens of the world must realize that to create a harmonious world, we must learn to not get lost in the hype of these events.

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