For whatever reason The Dove World Outreach Centre in Gainesville, Florida,Â USA, is setting out to commemorate the 9th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 dubbed 9/11 terror attacks by burning the Quâ€™ran publicly, on claims that slam is an â€˜evil religionâ€™.
The church pastor, Terry Jones, was quoted as saying by the CNN: â€œWe believe that Islam is of the devil, that itâ€™s causing billions of people to go to hell, it is a deceptive religion, it is a violent religion and that is proven many, many times.â€
The Facebook page that has more than 1,600 fans also has a very inciting message. â€œEternal fire is the only destination the Quran can lead people to, so we want to put the Quran in its place – the fire!â€ the page says.
The church also launched a YouTube video to disseminate the message. â€œI mean ask yourself, have you ever really seen a really happy Muslim? As theyâ€™re on the way to Mecca? As they gather together in the mosque on the floor? Does it look like a real religion of joy?â€ Jones says in the YouTube video. â€œNo, to me it looks like a religion of the devil.â€
Jones also said he has written a book titled â€œIslam is of the Devilâ€, and that the church sells coffee mugs and shirts featuring the phrase.
The stance of the church can only breed hatred among Muslim and Christians. It is worthwhile that already, Muslim and ChristianÂ groups in America haveÂ launched a protest against the planned event, which, if allowed to take place, will breed violence..
The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) issued a statement urging the church to cancel the event, warning it could exacerbate worldwide tension between the two religions.
â€œThe NAE calls on its members to cultivate relationships of trust and respect with our neighbours of other faiths. God created human beings in his image, and therefore all should be treated with dignity and respect,â€ it said.
Another Facebook group with more than 3,100 fans said it stands â€œagainst the disrespect and intolerance that these people have for the Muslim peopleâ€.
An Islamic advocacy group – Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – has said it would give out 100,000 copies of the Quran to local, state and national leaders, in a bid to educate the public during the month-long fast of Ramadan, which begins today.
â€œAmerican Muslims and other people of conscience should support positive educational efforts to prevent the spread of Islamophobia,â€ CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said.
Though reactions trailing the protest is that of condemnation, with claims that it would only escalate more tensions between the two faiths, the church is determined to continue with the religious protest as it claims it gained a lot of endorsements on its Facebook page.
The organisers of the planned September 11 bonfire must call it off in the name and love of Jesus Christ. Itâ€™s important we emphasise, here, what the name and love of Jesus Christ represents. Whatever step the church chooses to take should be motivated by love and not contempt or revenge or to be seen by some as creating some form of religious enmity. The holy books and our supreme model, Jesus Christ teaches love amidst hostility, tribulations and persecutions. Even when, in practical human terms, it seems impossible to practise such divine instructions, total dependence on God to help our weak humanÂ nature and all its devious tendencies should be sought. Does it mean despite the malicious, evil and dastardly terror attacks (religiously, socially or politically motivated) all over the world that have inflicted so much pain, grief and deep sorrow on families, we should just fold our hands and look on? Can the Christian American forgive the Al Qaeda group, headed by the ever elusive Osama bin Laden, that wreaked the havoc of 9/11? Can the victims of the tragic 9/11 incident ever forgive those that inflicted an everlasting wound in their hearts forever? Can the American grip let go of the Afghanistan throat? These are real hard questions to be answered.
Reprisal attacks by an aggrieved group always follow violence perpetrated by another group. Recall the violent consequences that trailed the publication of a comical representation of Prophet Mohammed by a Danish newspaper, Jyllands Posten, the world over.
The point here is not for Christians to be seen as a body that incites any form of religious upheaval that would, most frequently, spread beyond control and in the end claim innocent lives, but a group of people that devoutly represents love and, by choice, co-exist in peace amidst religious provocations.
The Dove World Outreach Centre should obey the biblical injunction of not rendering evil for evil or rage for rage. The churchÂ should heed this biblical injunction. For the Christian to align to this biblical truth is proof of his total submission and commitment to God, which in the real sense is not easy, humanly speaking. The holy Bible charges that whatever battle the Christian is involved in, itâ€™s not his but the Lordâ€™s. Godâ€™s exalted and supreme position can never be taken by any mortal. So if Heâ€™s not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all. God should be allowed to reign, supremely, in the life of a Christian. God represents love and so must the church. Any form of action or reaction, that would incite violence would be a contradiction to this view.
In this light, I join fellow christians across the world who share the same view, and appeal to Pastor Terry Jones to sheath their swords and let peace reign.
â€¢Sylvanus Nwafor, writes fromÂ Ofada, Ogun State.