Monday, April 4, 2011

One Book, Seven Innocent People

Who is To Blame?

On the twentieth of March Reverend Terry Jones, the pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida finally acted on his threats from last September and burned a single Koran. Few people seemed to notice, and Rev. Jones did not receive the media attention that he had received when he was originally holding the 9-11-10 Koran burning day at his church.
Someone in Afghanistan noticed, though, and two weeks later, over this last weekend a riot broke out in the Afghanistan city of Mazar-e-Sharif, as well as in the Kandahar region. The riot in Mazar-e-Sharif ended with the brutal deaths of seven UN workers. The rioters claimed to be responding to the burning of the Koran, which Islamic teachings hold as holy.
The outcry against Jones has resumed with General Petraeus, the commander of the forces in Afghanistan, leading the way condemning Rev. Jones. Who is to blame though? Was the violence in Mazar-e-Sharif Rev. Jones’ fault? Let’s use an analogy. If someone calls you a bad name and you punch them, you will probably still expect to be punished but you feel justified in your actions. Using this comparison, Jones is not responsible for the attacks, but his actions were irresponsible and unwise.
One does have to wonder though about the time that elapsed between the actual burning of the Koran on March 20, and the riots of the previous weekend. It seems likely that these riots were planned ahead of time and were not simply the result of people getting angry at America for an American pastor burning a Koran. We know that people can be whipped into frenzy and do outrageous things when manipulated by a small number of radicals, and this is what appears to have happened this past weekend. I hope that the authorities in Afghanistan will clamp down on the true hateful speech of the provocateurs in Mazar-e-Sharif.
In conclusion, while the actions of Rev. Jones were poorly chosen, I wouldn’t blame him for the deaths in Afghanistan, but instead would blame those who incited the crowds, and directed them toward the UN outpost.

Read the story from the Wall Street Journal here: (Warning: the article contains some violent content) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703712504576241110591067484.html

By Michael Zeller

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