April 3rd, 2011
11:14 AM ET

Fareed's take: Quran firestorm

Let's talk for a moment about the Quran burning in Florida and its consequences. Most Americans are repulsed by the offensive actions of Pastor Terry Jones, a publicity-seeking extremist. But they must wonder how an isolated act like that could produce so much violence halfway across the world in Afghanistan.

So let's trace the event.

The Quran burning took place two weeks ago – to not much publicity. It was not highlighted by the international media and was not a big story in Afghanistan. There had been a few small, peaceful protests last Wednesday.

Then, Afghan President Hamid Karzai decided to try to capitalize on the issue and score some political points.

Last Thursday he made a speech loudly condemning the burning and calling for the arrest of Pastor Jones. But having lived in America, Karzai understands well that people cannot be arrested here for engaging in free speech, which includes burning flags or books.

Karzai's speech opened the door for Imams across the country to use their pulpits on Friday to call for protests and more.

That is when all hell broke loose.

But even then, the killings appear to have been the handiwork of Taliban agitators who were using the occasion to score points against the United States, the Karzai government, and to generally cause chaos in the streets.

The senior UN official in Afghanistan said that there was abundant evidence that the killings were not the result of out-of-control mobs but rather deliberate acts of murder by Taliban militia.

Keep in mind that these protests have been extremely small by Afghan standards - not a single one had more than 100 people at it, according to the U.S. army spokesman.

So it's politics as much as religion at work here.

And yet there is something depressing about the fact that when something like this happens, there is an imbalance in the reaction.

Many Muslim leaders - from the Afghan government to the Pakistani government to local activists - condemn the burning of the Quran. That's appropriate. Burning the Holy Book of any religion is offensive.

But so is killing people in reaction to that burning. And this is where there is still far too much silence in the Muslim world.

President Karzai has condemned the killing, presumably realizing that his political ploy backfired, but what about the others? And what about Muslim religious leaders in particular? Why are they silent about the murder of innocents in the name of religion?

This is a perfect moment for them to stand for a modern, moderate Islam that condemns the burning of the book but also the killing of humans.

We will keep watch for those statements.


soundoff (410 Responses)
  1. Texas Ranger

    Radical Islam shows no tolerance for other religions. Churches are blown up. Church goers are assassinated. Why should we care if extreme elements are offended? Does non-radical Islam condemn those acts of intolerance? Silence....... Did they condemn 9-11? Islamist were dancing in the streets in Texas when the towers went down. Now that was offensive!

    April 6, 2011 at 3:38 am | Reply
    • Amber

      Texas Ranger,
      First of all, USA is not a Christian country. Secondly Muslims all over the world condemned 9-11 attacks and any other terrorist activity done in the name of Islam. Check CAIR for instance. You will find plenty of Muslim scholars out there condemning terrorism. Thirdly, what are you, as a Christian doing to condemn Pastor Terry Jones? Are the people in Afghanistan aware that not every Christian in USA wants to burn Quran? Do you know Afghanistan is a war zone for past many decades? Do you know people do not get to go to any school in Afghanistan? Do you know that everyday many Afghan civilians get killed when a US drone attacks them? Do you anything at all? Have you ever read Quran? Do you know most of the Muslim world does not really care if you burn Quran copies or not. They are just copies. The real Quran is all over internet, in people's houses and hearts? Do you know any American Muslim who reacted violently to Quran burning? American Muslims condemn Quran burning in this organized manner because it is provocative. It provokes illiterate Afghans go violent. Look at newspapers closely and tell me one instance in which an American Muslim even hurt anybody for burning Quran? The American Muslims are educated both in Islamic education and Modern education. They think rationally.

      April 6, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Reply
      • Texas Ranger

        Amber I never said this was a Christian country. I used the Church and Buddhist temples as examples. Mainly The church because of the recent bombings and persecution of Christians in The Middle East. The Taliban defacing of the temple was around fifteen years ago. I recall I made a distinction between radical Islam and non-radical Islam. My reference to silence has to do with clerics stirring up anti American rhetoric in Saudi Arabia (and elsewhere) encouraging their young to hook up with extremist groups while the governments allow it to happen on their soil. As far as Terry Jones burning The Quran. He is an idiot. But that still doesn't justify taking innocent lives.

        April 6, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  2. Omar

    Why should muslim leaders step up for every non muslim that gets killed and how can the western countries bomb strike with misiles at any muslim

    April 6, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Reply
  3. brucemo

    I don't like the article because it creates a false relation between killing people and burning a book. There is no reason why anyone should attempt to negotiate for sanity, i.e. the notion of *not* going on murderous rampages as a consequence of someone else's expression, by declaring that the expression is also bad.

    There is an obvious gulf between the Western world and the Islamic world. It is sensible to try to find common ground; it's sensible to try to find tolerance and respect rather than hatred and violence. Fine, no civilized person from either world should have a problem with this. The problem is when we in the West are willing to go too far to find common ground by being willing to weaken our core values by pandering to those who do things that are diametrically opposed to our own traditions.

    We in the West have a tradition of freedom of speech - the notion that it is not okay to arrest, beat, or outright kill someone because you don't agree with their expressions. This tradition is not negotiable, and we don't need to try to pander to those who go on murderous rampages because they don't like certain expressions, by saying that we also deplore and condemn these expressions.

    What we should condemn are the murderous rampages. There is no need to agree that the content of the expression here might provoke someone to go a murderous rampage, before politely asking for calm in the face of this provocation.

    It's inexcusable to kill people as a reaction to symbolic expression. Period.

    April 6, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Reply
  4. ASHAH

    Obama only condemned the burning of Quran when 7 people had been killed already as a result of the protests. What does that tell you Mr Zakria. And also, you are calling ofr the rest of the Muslim world to condemn the protestors, would you mind telling me how many leaders from the Christians world have condemned the burning of Quran.

    April 7, 2011 at 8:39 am | Reply
    • Altee11

      MIllions of Christians condemned it by ignoring Jones' efforts to gain attention. The only people who listened to Jones were Al Qaeda and the Taliban. That is not a surprise since they may be cut from the same cloth.

      April 8, 2011 at 2:51 am | Reply
  5. ahmodtijaniy

    we Muslim is guard by the holy Quran , if the freedom of information permitted you be guarded accordingly. All the anticipated event in middle East is as result corruption among their Leader they lack the core Shariah in Islam, We believes in other holy books but their are tamper to create impression,eg As man who married to a woman because of freedom the lay her hand on so called husband .If that should permitted she persistent except you CAUTION Her not any but the future of her Children.We have Shariah law that can promote the whole WORLD without errors

    April 7, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Reply
  6. Texas Ranger

    I support the overthrow of any dictator or royal family anywhere in the world. Especially The Saudi Royal family. Nothing wrong with the spread of democracy in the Middle East. Where you went wrong is talking about Shariah Law as the answer to all our problems in the world. Never going to happen. One of the biggest errors happening on this planet is radicals like yourself justifying the killing of innocent people. Especially over a holy book. There is nothing holy about being a suicide bomber and killing innocent women and children.

    April 7, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Reply
  7. sammy breeze

    Dear Mr Zakaria, your interview showing that you did not strongly condemn the action done by this drunk ,piece of shit , idiot peator Terry Jones but your main argue was about uprising the protest in afgan, this pastor ,piece of shit burn quaran the symbol of idiology for millions of muslem and disrespect these people since thousandand thousands of years ago. He did it in Florida in U.S.A. but if in muslem countries take a similar steps and start burning Bibles are arround muslems countries. what the answer would be for this piece of shit , Terry Jones.His action can not be removed by appology or regret. He should be hand-cuff and handed over to protestors .you can imagine what they do to him. in this case no any person or pastor never dare to do such a stupid action.

    April 7, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Reply
    • Lyle

      It's a good thing we are a FREE country not a draconian society like Afganastan.

      April 8, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Reply
  8. markjuliansmith

    Plato said the main problem with humanity is they skate on the surface clearly some have not even touched it.

    Justified Islamophobia

    The King hearings and the desecration of the unholy text, the Quran, are acts of desperation in the face of Muslims extreme intolerance, bigotry and bloody terror rather than the reverse.

    We hear a lot about bigotry on the behalf of non-Muslims but for heavens sake the ridiculous nature of such claims in the face of the Justified Islamophobia represented in the creation of Home Security and wars both open and covert across the world, as well as the terrible carnage and bigotry of Muslims against non-Muslims and Muslims alike which occurs each and every day makes this a terrible absurdity which beggars logic.

    The persecuted have to in fact apologise to the persecutors – Why? Because the terror derives from a religion – if this was secular terror – it would be open season.

    I am not usually into book burning but burning the Quran is deplorable compared to what? Swinging from goal posts, hacked to death in a safe room, burned to death in churches, blown up at shrines, killed in drive by shootings, 9/11, killed by Mohammed because you parodied him not on just one occasion this occurred – imitated by Muslims to this day, in Malaysia even certain Muslim sects regarded as deviates and unable to worship openly, how much carnage from the very beginning to today, this very minute do you want, to prove nothing has been taken out of context – Quran Chap "THE COW" and what follows is the recipe for genocide against other responsible for the continuing planning, attempts and completion of further Muslim atrocities not only in the US and elsewhere, not only by groups but individuals.

    This terror against other is not an historical and cultural anachronism it has been going on since the seventh century. Want to be a normative relativism culturally sensitive to allow slaughter of others well those blaming Terry Jones are doing a fine job. Congratulations.

    The fact is, do not for one minute believe the way you see the world is the same as Muslims or any other culture for that matter you cannot relabel what you do not understand with what you do and expect everything is going to nice and rosy.

    Also to say this does not represent all Muslims ignores the fact the same text which informs these terrible actions against other comes from exactly the same text informing the nature of so called moderate Muslims. Is it any wonder terrorist Muslims come from good Muslim families.

    Not every one turns up in a suicide belt, as in most if not every other cultural conflict, but clearly the Muslim culture enables this terror from generation to generation as it has from the seventh century. Muslims blame everyone else for their violence rather than accept their text is flawed and rightly challenged.

    Muslims can and do blame everyone else because the Quran in the Chap "THE COW" not only informs them the text will be challenged and is expected (must be from the writers experience) but the objectors are fools, etc and even God condemns them for 'grevious harm'. This is the template for violence against other and we allow this to go unchallenged because it is a fictitious text written by men labeled as religion – anyone would think humanity had not got past thinking the earth is flat.

    The text which informs these terrible actions against other clearly within the Quran must be deleted and if Muslims will not do it the for the sake of a secure environment for our children without the threat of terror the rest of society has an obligation to do so.

    If the textual construct for Islamic terror is not the Quran pray tell where is this text which does inform Islamic terror.

    Then we get the taking out of context comment which is so, so fallacious given not only apart from the charred body bits and unfathomable grief – the context is the Quran – if I saw it immediately what of a terrorist who repeats it as verse each day. Muslims have to take responsibility and recognize calling yourself a moderate is not protection from being held personally responsible for the continuing terror.

    Gad those who indeed find problems with the King hearings – encourage the continuation of terror – as with Neville Chamberlain waving his white little piece of paper unable to come to terms with any human being or culture could be so intent on the destruction of other – surely we can treat them nicely – give in to their belligerent, violent manner and sacrifice more humans to their grinding mill until they can see we are just friendly folk.

    April 8, 2011 at 5:54 am | Reply
  9. Stacey

    As a Muslim, my personal view on this is that the persons who burned the Quran in this manner did so out of hate and I don't have time for the childish antics (though one could say he's a Terrorist). However, what is more important is how we, as Muslims react to it. What have we been taught about bullies? A bully without an audience is just a whiner. The media was right to ignore the stunt. We should be more ... "Like... Whatever... You're an Idiot" and get on with our daily tasks.

    April 8, 2011 at 8:52 am | Reply
    • markjuliansmith

      As a Muslim, you are as much responsible for the terror against fellow humans as you do nothing to remove the text which informs terror from Islamic text the same text which informs your behavior as well as terrorists – bullies give us all a break you are the bully and you think its normative.

      April 9, 2011 at 2:42 am | Reply
  10. George

    Pastor is much better than many radical Muslims. He burned only Quran not any human beings. How many innocent people got burned to death so far by radical Musilims.? I don't understand the rational behind it? If Quran is advocating burning the fellow beings then we should burn everything which instigate voilence against humanity. Human beings are precious than any scriptiour whether it is Bible or Quran. I am glad Pastor Terry Jones burned any Muslims

    April 8, 2011 at 11:39 am | Reply
  11. War

    The war continues...

    April 8, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Reply
  12. Lyle

    This is America and I will defend to the death the right for T Jones to burn what ever book he wants whether I agree with him or not. Anyone in America who does not feel the same should find a new country to live in. Thousands have died protecting these rights and thousands more will continue to. When we start prosecuting people for offending someone is the beginning of the end! God bless the USA. not allah but GOD. Jesus' dad, you know the one I'm talking about

    April 8, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Reply
  13. Deca durabolin 200 mg

    You certainly have some agreeable opinions and views. globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com provides a fresh look at the subject.

    December 4, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Reply
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