Can global leaders' outcry minimize fallout from Koran burning plan?
The planned Florida Koran burning has compelled outcry from President Obama, Pakistani President Zardari, and others. Those messages appear to be muting wider Muslim reaction to the planned Koran burning.
Leaders from across the globe who had never heard of the Rev. Terry Jones before last week are speaking out against the small-time Florida pastor creating a big stir with his plan to burn Korans on Sept. 11.Skip to next paragraph
2011 Reflections: Suddenly, a new era in the Middle East
2011 Reflections: the end of a landmark year for Latin America
2011 Reflections: Africa rises, taking charge of its affairs
How the 'Year of the Protester' played out in Europe
In Prague, a tale of communism past
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The torrent of publicity washing over Reverend Jones and his self-declared "International Burn a Koran Day," with a 200-Koran bonfire outside his Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., is the latest reminder of how the Internet and the gaping maw of the 24-hour news cycle can turn minor events into global issues.
President Obama, Afghanistan war chief Gen. David Petraeus, and Pope Benedict XVI have all spoken out against Jones, who was expelled from an evangelical congregation he founded in Cologne, Germany, by parishioners angry over his hate-filled sermons and what some have told reporters were his demands for "blind obedience."
"Anyone who even thought of such a despicable act must be suffering from a diseased mind and a sickly soul,” he said in a statement. The planned Koran burning will "cause irreparable damage to interfaith harmony and also to world peace."
On President Zardari's last point, there's a growing body of evidence to suggest he may be wrong.
Part of the reason Jones has gotten so much attention is because of the violent reaction to a Danish newspaper publishing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in 2005. Little noticed on the day of publication, a storm of international publicity and vituperation led to violent protests and deaths in some Muslim countries months later.
The question of desecrating the Koran is, religiously, more offensive to Muslims than depictions of the prophet. So it's not surprising that world leaders are trying to get out ahead of the Jones story to forestall a narrative that feeds into the "clash of civilizations" mindset, which is dear to extremists in both the Muslim and Christian worlds.