A self-described “pastor” who in 2008 was kicked out of the Christian group he founded in Cologne, Germany on charges of running a sect – including forcing members to give him a percentage of their earnings and making them work for no or little wages without providing any health insurance (despite the requirement by German law for all employers to do so)- and also after being fined by German courts for claiming to have a PhD as a “Doctor of Theology” (he has an honorary degree from a non-accredited school in California), Terry Jones and his Dove World Outreach Center have drawn vast international media attention for a plan that had scheduled the burning of the Quran today, September 11th, in Gainesville, Florida.
“I think he's gone mad”
Emma Jones, the daughter of Mr. Jones, was recently quoted as saying “I think he's gone mad” in response to the plan to burn Qurans. She, along with a host of high-ranking US officials (both civilian and military) and international figures, had appealed to her father to stop the event. Eventually those appeals were heard and Terry Jones has announced that he and his congregation:
We feel we have accomplished our goal- We were obedient- We feel that God is telling us to stop- and we also hope that with us making this first gesture, not burning the Quran, to say no we're not going to do it- not today, not ever, we're not going to go back and do it- it is totally canceled, we hope that through that maybe that will open up a door to be able to talk to the iman [sic] about the ‘ground zero mosque’
A time-line of how this story emerged onto the international media scene can be found on NYDaily News. Once media coverage of the planned event had reached the world, reaction was strong on all sides. A sampling is provided below.
From the BlogHer site, Her Bad Mother offers her perspective on the coverage:
As sickening as it seems sometimes to keep hearing about their story, and about how pretty much everyone in the so-called Western world has called for them to stop being so freaking crazy and please, please, please not do this thing, it is a story that we need to keep our attention on. Because the defining part of that story is that the vast majority of everyone, everywhere, thinks that what they've been doing is crazy, really crazy, and wrong and horrible and bad, and we need to keep that story out there. If everyone who opposed what they've been doing stands down now, and goes silent, the only voices left will be those that are still calling burn, burn, burn!
In a comment on a post onThe Daily Beast, FarLeftFist has a different take:
The leader of 50 racists got more press than all the anti-war protests in 2003. Shame on the media. 2,752-All Colors-All Religions-All Americans. United We Stand | Divided We Fall.
A comment by Sohaib Hasan from Egypt in response to an Al-Jazeera article states:
من قراءتي لهذا المقال اتضح لي بل ولكل من قرأ هذا المقال ان ذلك المدعو جونز ليس إلا جاهل مغفل وذلك ليس لجهله بالإسلام بل لجهله بأبسط الاشياء التي تأهل الشخص لكي يكون ناقدا لغيره اي لجهله بعلم المنطق. فكيف ينقد قضيه ليس له علم بماهيتها؟! ومن هؤلاء الذين وافقه الرأي؟! انهم ليسوا إلا جهالا مغفلين ايضاًحيث انهم اتبعوا جاهلا مغفل.
Spiraling Battle of Negativity
Unfortunately many on both sides also responded with equally negative reactions or simply got caught up in trading tirades with each other based on their partisan positions, such as Sugar Bear commenting on the issue on Al-Jazeera's Witness program page:
They are Ignorants such dirty minds .Death for those who violate our Religion .
Or the description for the Facebook page I Hate Terry Jones:
TERRY JONES IS A UGLY ******* AGAINST MUSLIM HE SAID HE PLANS TO BURN THE QURAN IN FRONT OF FLORIDA CHURCH ON NINE ELEVEN join TO GO AGAINST THIS MOTHER@#$%
And commenters on the Facebook page Against Terry Jones such as Seruni Jett:
Terry jones,his parents,his kids (no matter if they're innocent)[author's original parenthesis],i can swear for absolute sure that all of u will stay eternal in hell.u were not even worth to live a life.u may not feel it now,but just wait until end of the worLd,u will feel big sorry to IsLam
I'm not kidding with my words.i'm so faithful to my religion,and to Al Qur'an too..if somebody fuck up with it,they will pay with most xpensive cost
Jones, if you dare to burn the Koran, your life is at stake .. I assure you it will happen to you ..
Followed in opposition by Noel Rodriguez:
I just burned a Koran and what any of you is going to do about it.
and Fabienne Pauwels:
if a muslim burns a bible, nobody will condamn it but because it's the coran, muslims all over the world are angry, that's again the thrugh face …..
These and other far more violent and profane comments can be found not only on the above two Facebook pages but also on Everybody against pastor Terry Jones buring the Holy Quran on Sept 11, where some people seem oblivious to their own immediate contradictions:
I am a Muslim and my book is the Quran and the Quran order me that:
1 / respect for all religions and not attack on sanctities.
2 / belief in all prophets and love my prophet, including Jesus and Moses peace be upon them.
3 / coexistence wi…th all people in peace and respect.
4 / not to kill the human spirit.
…5 / obey for the elderly and the kindness to our childern.
6 / development and community building.
7 / exercise good manners with everyone.
~**** TERRY JONES!!!
Posted by Farid A. Razaq.
On the other side is the Dove World Outreach Center Has A Right To Burn The Koran page, whose main photo depicts a man sitting on a toilet using the Quran as toilet paper.
All of the Facebook pages (most centered around calls to violence or profane insults) regarding Terry Jones, the Dove World Outreach Center, and the planned burning of the Quran can be found here.
Voices of Understanding and Reason
Fortunately a few voices of reason stand out – Ahmed Habliza:
Instead of Quran burning day lets do Quran reading day.* DID YOU KNOW Jesus PBUH was mentioned in Quran (25 times), V. Mary PBUH (34 times), Moses PBUH (136 times), Mohammed PBUH (4 times), The Prophet (215 times). Did u know one of the biggest chapters is named after the family of V.Mary (Al-Imran…29…pages) & another named (Mary 7 pages) that dignifies V.Mary overall women of all time?
and Muslims Christian:
this is the real face of Islam, Christian and of All other Religious we say thank you Allah and u say thank u God and others say thank u Jesus and others say thank you Moussa and others say thank u Issa and so on and all these found on all the books for us in Quran in Bible in Turat and other books so we are all united so dont let haters and stupid people effect on us
and finally a prayer offered by the Pray For Dove World Outreach Center called the 9.11 Prayer:
“Gracious God of all creation: On this day, we remember our neighbors, of different nations and backgrounds, who died in the attacks we simply call 9-11. Hear our prayers for their loved ones. May they know the comfort that comes from knowledge and love of You. May they be surrounded by communities that care for them, even as you continue to care for this fragile and suffering world. God, we confess that we cannot make sense of the violence inflicted by Your children on one another. But even more than understanding, we ask for the strength to be peacemakers, servants of your will for reconciliation. It has been nine years since the senseless attacks, but we are still in pain. Give us the courage, God, to work for the day when hatred and violence will cease. Help us to be those who break cycles of retribution, even as we advocate for justice with bold persistence. Help us to work for that time when no infant dies needlessly, when no one labors in vain or bears children for calamity, when even wolf and lamb feed together and no one hurts or destroys your holy creation. God, be our strength, and may we feel your loving touch today and always. Amen.”