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Terry Jones Is Not the Problem

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

That preacher in Florida who burned a Koran is a ______ (Fill in the Blank). On that, I think we can all agree.

The notion that a guy with a 30-person congregation can hold himself up as - literally - a judge, and some of his massive congregation as jury, to decide on the legitimacy of Islam as a religion would be laughable, except we don't laugh about those things any more.


Both U.S. President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the actions of Terry Jones but Karzai's comments were used as a match by Imams in Mosques across Afghanistan at Friday prayers to light the fires of an insane overreaction.

Yesterday Karzai issued a statement "calling on the US Congress to condemn a Christian preacher's burning of the Koran."

Ok. Fair's fair. I would consider the U.S. Congress voting on such a resolution just as soon as Karzai issues a statement condemning the murder of innocent people in Mazar-e-Sharif and across his country.

In the attack at Mazar-e-Sharif, which is in northern Afghanistan, a mob of about 1,000 people stormed the United Nations compound, killed at least four guards and three U.N. staffers - none of whom were Americans.

Since Friday some 20 people have been killed across Afghanistan in demonstrations against Jones having burned a copy of the Koran in Florida.

Forget about Karzai. We know he's a crook and a self-serving thug. Where are the condemnations of these wholly asymmetrical, unforgivable, and indefensible reactions to burning a book in who-knows-where Florida from Muslim leaders - clerics or not?

Where is the reaching out by Muslims to the families and colleagues of the people who were killed solely because a mob was incited to deadly violence in the belief that any Westerner is the same as every Westerner?


I have looked for exclamations of dismay for these assaults from people who hold themselves out to be leaders in the Islamic community. I'm not talking about Jeddah or Abu Dhabi. I'm talking about New York City or Nashville, Tennessee - two places where there have been local issues about building large Muslim community centers.

If demands to stop killing innocents in Afghanistan by Islamic leaders in the U.S. have been forthcoming, the reporting about them has been very thin, because I haven't been able to find them.

U.S. journalists should be searching them out and asking them if they intend to go to their Mosques this coming Friday and denounce the attacks in Afghanistan, and if not, why not?

This thunderous silence by Muslims is not helpful to the cause of interdenominational understanding nor international peace.

I had the good fortune to have met with a man named Filaret Motco, a 43-year-old U.N. political officer, at that same compound in Mazar-e-Sharif when I was in Afghanistan as an official observer of the Presidential election in August, 2009.

Mr. Motco, a Romanian, took time out from his very busy work in the run-up to that election to brief me and the other team members from the International Republican Institute with whom I was travelling.

I'm pretty certain Mr. Motco didn't know there is a place called "Gainesville, Florida" much less that a church named the "Dove World Outreach Center" is located there.


He will never know. He was one of the three U.N. staffers killed on Friday.

Here's what I would recommend if I were asked what to do by a Muslim leader in the United States. I would seek out a local Christian Minister and a local Jewish Rabbi who are both well-known in their geographic community.

I would suggest they hold an interdenominational prayer service and then I would have them take a bible, have the Rabbi say a prayer over the Old Testament; have the Minister say a prayer over the New Testament; and then with great respect and solemnity, burn it.

This would certainly not be a pleasant ceremony, but it would demonstrate an appropriate level of symmetry between the two acts.

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