Pastor launches new Qu'ran burning stunt
Leading Muslim asks Christians to join protest against plan
A top Muslim cleric has asked Christians to support a protest against a new plan to burn copies of the Qu’ran.
Announced in a press release this week from Terry Jones, an American pastor who has gained notoriety through past anti-Islamic initiatives, the latest stunt would involve the burning of 2,998 Qu’rans on September 11th, 2013. The figure represents the number of people who were killed in the attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York.
Jones came to worldwide attention when he launched his first ‘Burn a Qur’an’ campaign in 2011. It is alleged that he was also one of the producers of Innocence of Muslims, a controversial low-budget movie that sparked anti-American protests in several countries.
Hafiz Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, chairman of the Pakistan Ulema Council, yesterday urged Christians to join in the outcry against against the latest plan.
“We demand the immediate arrest of this mad pastor: Christians should support us as a united nation as they did in the past. It will be hard for us to give explanations to enraged Muslims if, God forbid, this happens,” he said.
Ashrafi, who also advises the Pakistani government on Islamic issues, emphasized the need to discourage extremist preachers, whether Christian or Islam.
“We are proud to help poor Christians who become victims of the blasphemy laws,” he said. “Many Muslims were involved in relief efforts when a colony was burnt in the city last month,” he added, referring to the March 9 mob attack on Joseph Colony, a Christian settlement in Lahore, in which two churches and 178 houses were torched.
Ashrafi's comments came in an address to the Universal Peace and Harmony Conference in the city on April 11. Other speakers included Father James Channan, who to appealed the US to confiscate “hate material” produced by Jones’ organization Stand Up America.
“He has no right, no right to desecrate Islam’s holy book and needs to be stopped. This is not Christianity”, said Fr Channan.
“We are already a vulnerable community here. This will affect Christians who do not share the ideology of Jones."
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