Jones’ Malicious Intentions and Responsibilities of American Government.
America, the land of immigrants, in these days witnessing a widening rift between its dominant Christian and minority Muslim population, which is neither good for the country nor is beneficial for the rest of the world. The construction of Cordoba House, a mosque and community center in New York City to promote interfaith understanding, has become a controversial project and is unlikely to be completed on its original site. On the other hand, Terry Jones, pastor at The Dove Outreach Center in Florida, has added fuel to fire by inviting Christians to burn Quran on September 11 to commemorate victims of 9/11 terror attacks.
Terry Jones - with 50 members in his church - has never been a popular figure and is notorious for his anti-Islamic and anti-gay rights rhetoric. He has authored a book titled "Islam is of the devil" and his church sells coffee mugs and shirts featuring this phrase. His church is hosting an event on September 11 to remember the 9/11 victims by burning the copies of Quran from 0600 p.m. to 0900 p.m. Previously he has been failed to get public attention but his latest move has attracted thousands of fans, along with critics, at Facebook and he has done interviews with more than 150 media outlets of the world. In addition to his website, he is using Youtube as well to spread his message across the world, which may provoke reactions and, in worst scenario, riots in many countries.
Jones' move to commemorate 9/11 victims is a nastiest case of using scare tactics and negativity bias to gain popularity and recognition in mass media. Some American politicians has been using the same tools of aversion to move their ratings up and lure conservative voters. Ron McNeil, a candidate for congress, told a group of students last week that Islam’s plan "is to destroy our way of life". Earlier this year, in March, In March, for example, Allen West, a retired Army officer running for Congress in, told a group of supporters that "Islam is not a religion" but rather "a vicious enemy" that was "infiltrating" the United States. (A campaign spokesman said last week that Mr. West meant to refer to radical Islam, not Islam generally.) Such campaigning may attract some voters but they also have a great potential to inspire some new terrorists.
Terrorists might have used - better to say misused - the name of Islam to launch their terror activities in the United States and Western world. It does not mean that, however, Islam encourages its followers to kill every infidel on the earth by the way of terrorism as it is represented by a handful of politicians and religious leaders. It will be anything but a worst instance of focalism and confirmatory bias if a Muslim declares that Christianity teaches massacre of Jews since most of the Nazis were Christians. It will be a grave mistake to consider holocaust, in which lots of Jews were ruthlessly killed, as a Christian terrorism. Why do we not take Islam in the same manner? Indeed, supposed terrorists of 9/11 were Muslims but it will be a great mistake to take it as Islamic terrorism. Unfortunately, American minds have established an association of Islam with terrorism. Individuals like Jones further empower this association by the misrepresentation of selected and out of context Quranic verses and Islamic teachings, for personal interests. Such malicious practices, in reality, equal strengthening the terrorists, with whom American government and NATO are at war.
Anti-Islamic rhetoric may win politicians and religious leaders instant popularity but they must be cautious that it may be taken as War on Islam outside the United States. As it is evident from the controversy and debate on construction of Cordoba House, many Americans take Islam as a violent and dangerous political ideology with the main objective of destroying Western way of life. Airing such beliefs may cause collision between Christianity and Islam; something which rests at the top of terrorists' wish list. It will make it easier for them to motivate people from inside America and Europe.
Nine years long multi-dimensional war on terror, lead by the United States, has weaken Al-Qaida and extremists organizations, which are becoming increasingly disliked among ordinary Muslims. Militant organizations are finding it hard to attract new recruits for carrying out operations on Western lands. Some reports even suggest that such organization are using internet and social media to lure those who are already living in Europe and America. Take the example of Nidal Malik Hasan, American born Muslim of Palestinian descent. He was serving as U.S. Army psychiatrist at a time when he killed 13 people and wounded 30 others in a shooting spree at Ford Hood Texas. Investigation before and after the shooting discovered email communication between Hasan and Anwar Al-Awlaki, senior Al-Qaeda recruiter and motivator. Al-Awlaki is also considered to inspire the Christmas 2009 airline bombing attempt and the Times Square bombing using internet. Labeling Islam as a terrorist ideology will not be of any help to dry up sources for inspiration to lure the youth from inside Europe and America.
Al-Qaida recruiters and motivators, like Anwar Al-Awlaki, are always in dire need of such events to lure their recruits. If copies of Quran are burnt in the United States then people like Al-Awlaki - no one must have any doubt - certainly will project it as an American war on Islam. His comrades in many mosques across Muslim World will project in such a way which will make listeners believe that Islam is under attack. Put simply, the act of burning the Quran will sow seeds of animosity, revenge and hate in many minds, which will not serve a noble purpose. If people like Al-Awlaki are considered terrorists because they motivate people for acts of terrorism then what should we call people like Jones who provides source of inspiration for people like Al-Awlaki?
It is the responsibility of Christians to denounce and condemn Jones for his malicious plan to burn copies of Quran on September 11 who has shown a great insensitivity towards those Christians who are living in countries where they are outnumbered by Muslims. This event, if happens, will certainly a great amount of spread rage and anger across Muslim world, which may endanger the lives and properties of millions of innocent Christians. This event also have the potential to provoke riots in the Christian world where Muslims live as a minority. Jones' invitation to burn Quran at his church ignores the feelings of more than a billion Muslims then it also insensitive of the troubles and difficulties for Christian population across the world.
In our world today, goods, services, people and ideas move at fastest speed than at any point in our entire human history. Revolution in communication and internet technologies has made the transmission of the news in real time across the globe. This calls for a more responsible and tolerant behavior from our politicians and religious leaders. Jones' invitation to burn copies of Quran on September in no way will help to promote interfaith understanding and coexistence of different communities. Rather it will lead towards the polarization and collision of different civilizations. We, as a citizens of the modern world, must never allow handful of religious fanatics and opportunists to promoted hatred. Rather, in a world equipped with nukes and weapons of mass destruction, our religious leaders and scholars must engage in a dialogue to promote interfaith understanding and making co-existence of different religions possible.
Let us hope that American government and people will understand their responsibilities and will stop this event from happening.
(Written on September 5, but published on a later date)