By Daniel Pipes
Published April 06, 2011
When Pastor Terry Jones, 59, announced an intent to burn a Koran on the anniversary of 9/11 in 2010, the U.S. government, fearing attacks on American troops abroad, put intense pressure on him to desist and eventually he called off his plans.
Jones, however, did not cancel the ceremonial judgment of the Islamic scripture – he only delayed it by six months. On March 20, in a six-hour ceremony called “International Judge the Koran Day,” Jones convened a mock-judicial process in Florida that deemed the book “guilty of crimes against humanity,” then set a copy on fire.
The event was intentionally ignored in the United States, in the hopes of limiting its impact, but little stays secret in the Internet age. Within two days, news of the conflagration had reached Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the country’s presidents roundly denounced Jones, bringing his action to wide notice. On April 1, infuriated Afghans lashed out, killing twelve in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif; the next day, suicide bombers dressed in women’s clothing attacked a coalition base in Kabul and street mobs in Kandahar again killed twelve.
(This, it bears observing, was just five more dead than in September 2010, when nineteen were killed as Jones only threatened to burn the Koran.)
Who is morally to blame for these deaths, Jones or the Islamists who seek to apply the laws of Islam in their entirety and as severely as possible?