Asian nations including Pakistan, India and Indonesia have appealed to the US government to stop the proposed Koran burning in Florida on September 11, the anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers in New York.
Rev. Terry Jones at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, plans to burn copies of the Koran on church grounds to mark the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks
Asian nations including Pakistan, India and Indonesia have appealed to the US government to put a stop to the proposed Koran burning in Florida on September 11, the anniversary of the attack on the twin towers in New York.
In a bid to address the protests by Asian countries, US President Barack Obama has said that burning the Koran would serve as a 'recruitment bonanza' for al Qaeda activists. He however emphasized the fact that the US constitution prevents anyone from taking action against Terry Jones, the pastor in Florida who is leading the congregation to commemmorate the victims of 9/11. Meanwhile, Florida's administration has refused to give Jones a public burning permit. Security measures have also been put into place.
Earlier, the Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari strongly condemned the proposition and warned that the incident could enrage Muslims the world over. Zardari said that the event was bound to inflame sentiments and "cause irreparable damage to interfaith harmony".
Indonesia, India fear communal violence
Afghans burn an effigy of Dove World Outreach Center's pastor Terry Jones during a demonstration against the United States in Kabul, Afghanistan
Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has written to President Obama urging his direct intervention in the matter. He said that Indonesia and the US are building bridges between Islam and the western world. Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population. The majority of its Muslim citizens are believed to be moderate, but radical Islamists have threatened a jihad if the proposed book burning takes place.
Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaran has also condemned the proposed congregation, saying it was aimed at increasing "bitterness and strife" among religious groups. He has asked the Indian media to impose a blackout on any coverage of the event. It is believed that the proposed book burning may cause communal problems or even lead to communal riots in the country. India has the world's third largest Muslim population after Indonesia and Pakistan.
Despite concerns from several countries, the church in Florida has decided to go ahead with the planned congregation and book burning on Saturday.
Author: Manasi Gopalakrishnan
Editor: Arun Chowdhury