Opinion Brief

Is burning the Koran 'terrorism'?

A Florida pastor plans to mark 9/11 by torching Muslim holy books has met with widespread condemnation. Is he setting back the war on terror? 

Florida preacher Terry Jones says he'll go ahead with burning a pile of Korans on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — despite protests from the White House, the Vatican, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and several evangelical Christian groups. President Obama called Jones' "International Burn a Koran Day" a "recruitment bonanza for al Qaeda," but Jones said "backing down" would only show to terrorists that America is weak. [Update: Jones has called off the event.] Will a bonfire of Muslim holy books strike a blow against terrorism, or for it?

Burning Korans is terrorism: This is America — "no one should burn anyone’s holy book" here, says Leslie Marshall in U.S. News & World Report. Lighting a bonfire of Korans sends a scary message to all Muslims — that Americans hate them, and blame them all for 9/11. If you go along with Jones' attempt to strike fear in the hearts of innocent Muslims, "you’re acting like terrorists yourselves."
"'Burn a Koran Day' is un-American and not Christian"

Tolerance is a two-way street: Terry Jones has every legal right to speak his mind — even in this "flagrantly provokative" manner, says Thomas S. Kidd in USA Today. Similarly, the people behind the Park51 mosque have every legal right to build near Ground Zero. But both cases simply illustrate that we should focus more on what's responsible, rather than what's legal.
"Whether Park 51 or burning Korans, liberty is not propriety"

Where's the GOP's anti-terror outrage? "Republicans are usually eager to trumpet their support for the troops and the war against terror," says Fred Kaplan in Slate. So, with Gen. David Petraeus warning the bonfire will provoke attacks on our soldiers, why aren't GOP leaders rushing to condemn "Jones and his pathetic flock"?
"Petraeus vs. the pastor"

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