A war of extremes over Quran burning

A Florida preacher's acts don't typify Christianity. Mob violence doesn't typify Islam.

AP Photo/Rahmat Gul
Afghan protestors shout anti-US slogans as one of them holds a cross during a demonstration in Jalalabad, Afghanistan on Sunday. Afghan protests against the burning of a Quran in Florida entered a third day , while the Taliban called on people to rise up, blaming government forces for any violence. The banner reads "We strongly condemn the infidels disrespecting against our Islamic believes and their cruelty to Islamic nations."

While Florida preacher Terry Jones knew from past experience that burning a Quran would outrage the Muslim world, sources of outrage are never in short supply.

Because Muslims hold their holy book and the founder of their religion in the highest esteem, insults to either -- real or imagined -- have prompted reactions throughout history. This is not new. In 2005, the depiction of the Prophet Muhammed by Danish cartoonists sparked violent protests. Rumors about desecration of a Quran by guards at Guantanamo Bay, the planned depiction of Muhammed in a biographical movie in the 1970s, Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses" novel -- all caused an outpouring of anger in the Muslim world.

But perspective is important. There are more than a bilion Muslims on the planet. Most do not take to the streets because of what they consider an insult to their religion. Most quietly honor their faith and have the same concerns over family and livelihood that people everywhere have.

There will always be another perceived slight against Islam out there. Because of the Internet, an obscure event can be rapidly transmitted to the other side of the globe. And that will again trigger a violent reaction. But just as those who provoke are not typical of Christianity or western civilization, those who react are not the whole of the Muslim world.

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