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Deadly Afghan Riots Blamed on Quran Burning at Fla. Church

(RNS) The Florida pastor who presided over the recent burning of a Quran said the United Nations must protect Afghans from deadly riots, even as he denied responsibility for inspiring them.

At least eight U.N. aid workers and four others were killed Friday (April 1) at a compound in the city of Mazar-e Sharif. Media reports indicate an imam at the city’s central mosque encouraged worshippers to take action against the Quran burning.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, quickly pointed the finger at Gainesville pastor Terry Jones, who presided at a March 20 mock trial during which the Quran was set ablaze.

“An angry mob took out its rage on selfless public servants and innocent bystanders who had no connection to the desecration of a Quran by a radical figure in Florida,” Kerry said.


Jones denied responsibility, and said Islam, not he or his church, must be held accountable for inciting the crowds to violence.

“The United States government and the United Nations itself must take immediate action,” Jones said in a statement. “We must hold these countries and people accountable for what they have done as well as for any excuses they may use to promote their terrorist activities.”

Last year, Jones threatened to burn a piles of Qurans on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks but canceled the plans after pressure from President Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He promised at the time not to burn any Qurans.

Obama, who has taken pains to isolate Jones as a fringe radical who does not represent the views of other Americans, condemned the deadly riots without mentioning Jones in an official statement.


“Together with the American people, I offer my deepest condolences to those injured and killed, as well as to their loved ones,” Obama said.

Others lay blame for the deaths at directly Jones’ feet.

“Showing blatant disrespect for Muslims by burning their scriptures directly contradicts the example and spirit of Jesus, who taught us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves,” said Galen Carey, director of government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals.

“Those who burned the Quran do not represent the vast majority of Christians, who wish to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors.”

The Rev. Welton C. Gaddy, president of the Washington-based Interfaith Alliance, called the riots an “unacceptable” response to the Quran burning, but said they show that actions in the U.S. can have consequences overseas.


Last week, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan called Jones’ Quran burning “abhorrent” and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the act as a “serious setback” to world harmony.

Jones is pastor of the independent Dove World Outreach Center, which has about 30 members. Jones has launched a new organization, Stand Up America, to protest the Quran, Shariah law and “radical Islam.” He has scheduled an April event in front of an Islamic center in Dearborn, Mich.

– KEVIN ECKSTROM, Religion News Service

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    Jones is a representative of what is the worst in Christianity.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Heretic_for_Christ

    Terry Jones, like Fred Phelps and his “God hates fags” ministry, hides behind the Constitution, claiming freedom of speech. He is not guilty of pulling the trigger of a gun to kill anyone, but he is guilty of reckless disregard of human life in deliberating staging his puerile and provocative stunt, knowing how it would likely end.
    This is the face of fanaticism — not fervent faith but hysterical hatred. This is yet more evidence, if more evidence were needed, that the real wars are not between different faiths but between rational people and fanatics within each faith. It is up to the rational people of Christianity and of Islam to muzzle and marginalize the fanatics in their own midst — for fanaticism is a cancer that will destroy its own home as well as everything around it.
    (I started a thread on the Hot Topics forum on this incident.)

  • David Catleugh

    Now I understand. A slightly unhinged American Pastor burns a copy of the Quran,so a group of crazed thugs decide the appropriate response is to go out and murder a few innocent people.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Gwyddion9

    What Jones did was in poor taste, regardless of what he believes.
    However, I will state, that, imo, people who want to hate and kill will find some reason to justify their actions regardless of who does what.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Grumpy Old Person

    “He is not guilty of pulling the trigger of a gun to kill anyone”

    I disagree. His asshat actions have caused a dozen deaths – just not in America.

    His idjit ‘beliefs’ make America look stoopid/hateful/intolerant.

    His moronic fanaticism put ALL Christianity in a horrific light.

    Extremism at its worst, Terry Jones and Fred Phelps are currently the FACE of American “Christianity” to the world.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    Words have consequence, actions have consequence. Jones was advised by our government not to carry out his actions last yr. to burn the Quran Bibles he had amassed. This yr. no one was watching when he had his mock trial and burned one Quran soaked in kerosene in the middle of his church in florida on March 20. The Imam in the Mosque in Afghanistan gave a firey sermon and the inflamed men ran out and started a mob action to attack the UN Offices, and kill people in their rage prompted by the extremist acts of a fringe pastor in U.S., and the extremist Imam with his sermon. Extreme is just that extreme. Extremist religios beliefs and the hate it engenders is a blight on our society and anyone elses society wherever they live. Here is the proof of this statement in what just occurred. Anyone’s religion is attacked by “extremist beliefs” in religion when God’s message of love and peace are torn apart by hate, killing and division.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    The most important comparison that a thinking American can do today is be aware of actions and words that fall under the catagory of Extreme. IMO this has invaded our politics, churches, schools, anywhere people gather and are manipulated to gain the manipulators ideas into putting new laws into being. Leaders are using society to follow them because they say to, and the followers are too lazy-minded to think for themselves. People have to ask themselves am I being brain-washed and falling into extreme beliefs? Any part of your body you don’t use you’ll lose, even your ability to think with your brain. If you don’t know what leaders are talking about, then study the subject, don’t rely on what they say without checking it out.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    Jones did an asinine thing. It was not thoughtless – it was calculated. He’s guilty, I’d think, of intentional manslaughter for performing an act that accomplished nothing good for anyone but his little church and his little self.

    The people who encouraged thee rioters are at least as guilty of pretty much the same thing. And the people who killed those people are murderers.

    There’s a lot of blame to go around here.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Gwyddion9

    It appears that Karzai, president of Afghanistan, made publicly criticized the burning of the Koran in the U.S. to make a religious/political statement, that blew up in his face and people died because of it. It is reported that, while international news agencies didn’t report the Koran burning, some in Afghanistan heard about it and protested but the protests were peaceful. After Karzai’s remark, it blew up and various Amans took advantage of the situation, as well, and that’s when it blew up. It also appears that the Taliban is involved as well, rallying people against the U.S.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Georgia Dude

    mr Jones is to be commended for exercising his God given 1st Admendment rights, inspite of all the criticism. God bless this man!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    G9, After Karazi’s report on Jones trial of the Quran, the Imams took it up and preached hard on it, then it happened as I stated above. The people were enraged by their Imams.

    Georgia Dude, if criticism was all this was about twelve people in Afghanistan would still be alive. He’s really not a hero. Ever heard of “cause and effect”. No matter how many rights we have as Americans if they harm someone while we are trying to claim them we have made a mistake.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Georgia Dude

    I admire your beliefs, but however I must disagree because sometimes we must risk our rights of freedom against all odds.
    The Muslins would have done worse. You should be glad that the majority of Christians would no behave like the Muslins in Afghanistan. I do admire their (Muslins’) fervor passions for their
    religious beliefs. Sometimes. I think we Christians are too laid back and let everyone slam dunk to the hilt.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    If this man was the only representative of what Christianity was all about it would be pathetic. This man is no more representative of what I think the man called Jesus was pushing than one brand of coffee represents all coffee. If he wanted to burn the Quran he could have done it in the privacy of his own home, without publicity and accomplished his goal of making himself feel superior! No, he had to announce it to the world and prove to them what an SOB he is.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    Georgia Dude, what you mentioned “aganist all odds”, is only permissible to me if I were fighting in a war. There wasn’t a war being fought in Gainesville, FL, Jones wanted to start one of his own, and was cheered on by people like him and their checks in the mail. He is still their hero.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mordred08

    Georgia Dude, I realize killing somebody over your favorite book is wrong, but could we not pretend that this guy’s a hero? He burned a book. What does that accomplish? How does that make the world a better place?

    And as for the imam and his followers: what the hell? They have to know people do things like this and the “let’s draw Muhammad” thing to get a reaction out of them. That doesn’t require them to react in a way that involves killing people.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Heretic_for_Christ

    Georgia Dude,
    Your own words illustrate the dilemma — the tendency among some people of faith to admire religious fanaticism. You lament that Christians are too often “laid back” (“luke-warm” is the other phrase I hear). You apparently think of fanaticism as an unusually fervent form of faith. It is not. It is a cancer. It is a disgrace to true faith. Admiration for fanaticism implies a belief that God approves of hysteria. And that is a blasphemous notion.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    Jones plays to the press and the more press he gets the more radical he gets. But all in all he cannot be responsible for the riots. It really does not take much for some followers of Islam to take out their rage on “innocent bystanders” a totally irrational response to the behavior of a thoughtless stooge.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Gwyddion9

    One issue I have with the use of First Amendment Rights is when it is used without thinking and damn the consequences. That person, imo, is still responsible for their words and actions.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Heretic_for_Christ

    I agree completely with cknuck: Jones’ stunt identifies him as an irresponsible demagogue but does not justify the violence that erupted.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    Every cause has an effect. Always has and always will, no matter how we try to explain it away. It may not make a court case, but there it is.

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