I’ve been reading what others have written about Terry Jones and his decision to post a video of himself putting the Koran on trial and then burning the thing. He couldn’t have known what the Muslim reaction would be a world away. Should he have anticipated that his actions would result in the deaths of a UN employees by religious zealots in Afghanistan? Should he be held accountable? How could he? There’s always more to these kinds of stories and it’s never possible to blame one thing or one person and call it solved.
As to the book burning, maybe not the best idea a man’s ever had but it does need to be argued that everyone should have the right to criticize religions. Every religion should be pulled apart and analyzed and discussed. Every idea should be considered, every bad idea should be reconsidered, and every effort should be made to understand why people are willing to put their lives on the line for a few esoteric lines of text that may not hold a grain of truth within them.
Muslims around the world should be appalled at the actions of these few men. Why aren’t there more stories about that? Why haven’t they all denounced those guys and condemned their actions, instead of tacitly supporting that level of hatred by not speaking out?
At least with a Koran there are millions of copies still circulating. The destruction of one is not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, no matter how upset people might feel right now about one “holy book” going up in flames. Human beings, on the other hand, we’re all one of a kind. I think poor treatment of people on the whole is far more important to fight against than what one fringe preacher does to a book he doesn’t like.
To finish, I’ll quote from the Edmonton Journal piece by Lauryn Oates (linked to above):
It’s not Terry Jones or his weird church that will cause more bloodshed in Afghanistan. It’s the unbridled extremism constantly stoked by xenophobic, illiterate, hateful mullahs, and the sanction they enjoy from the very people who should be speaking out against violent reactionaries: the Afghan government, its police force who failed to protect the UN compound on Friday, the UN mission, and Afghanistan’s religious leaders.
More than ever, Afghanistan needs to cultivate a society of free-thinkers who will stand up to mullahs who spread hatred and intolerance. It needs a government that will uphold Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And it needs a UN mission on the ground that actually engenders the supposed values of the institution: freedom from fear, justice, peace, and the end of tyranny and oppression.
A world where offending one’s culture or religion justifies the atrocities of a bloodthirsty, fanatical mob is not the kind of world we should be aspiring to. It’s a cruel disservice to the dead in Mazar to claim otherwise.
eidt April 7 — whoops on the bad link. Now repaired.