Egyptians, though angry, see beyond the Quran-burning hype
While many Egyptian leaders spoke out about the Quran-burning event, Muslims here largely recognize that most Americans don't support such actions.
Egyptian Muslims began their Eid al-Fitr celebrations to mark the end of Ramadan Friday without the angry and sometimes violent protests that broke out in other Muslim countries over a Florida pastor’s plan to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11.Skip to next paragraph
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The planned Quran-burning was front-page news on Thursday and Friday, and drew wide condemnation in Egypt. But many Egyptians say that while they were offended by the proposed action, they did not feel the need to take to the streets to protest one man with an extreme view and a small following on the other side of the world.
“He’s a crazy person,” said a man who gave his name as Kamal after Friday prayers at a Cairo mosque, adding that Mr. Jones’s plans were wrong and hateful but did not represent the views of most Americans or Christians.
“He’s just trying to cause problems between Christians and Muslims,” added Ahmed Youssef. “As Egyptian people, we like Americans. We know they are not all like him.”
Indeed, the worldwide media frenzy that has developed around Jones has challenged Muslims to show the same kind of discernment they asked from the West after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks: that extremists do not represent the majority, says Fahmy Howeidy, a columnist in Al Shorouk newspaper who focuses on Islamic affairs.
“Previously some Western leaders kept asking ‘Why do Muslims hate us?’ Now Muslims are asking the same question, ‘Why do they hate us?’" he says. "I know that most [Americans] are against what will happen in Florida.… We need to convince [Muslims] of that as we needed previously to convince Americans.”
Egyptian newspapers were quick to point out, however, that the Coptic pope and the leaders of other Christian communities in Egypt had condemned the burning.
'I think Americans are smart and don't agree with this'
Mohamed Habib, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most powerful opposition group, said in an interview that he condemned Jones’s plans to burn the Quran as an attack on peaceful and rational societies, but that it was important for Muslim leaders to calm the anger.