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Burning Issues
This morning while listening to the radio, I heard two people on the subject of Terry Jones and his maybe/maybe not proposed Koran-burning session.

One was James Zogby, from the Arab American institute, who basically snapped that this whole thing was a media circus, orchestrated by Mr Jones, and that the US press, and the world press (the BBC interviewer admitted that they were just as much to blame) had done exactly what he wanted. If they had ignored him, the way he deserved, there would have been no reaction and no problem.

Available now: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/news/2010/09/100910_zogby_wt_ojc.shtml

The second was, of all things, Thought for the Day (which I usually turn off at once) where Mona Siddiqui (a Muslim academic) basically said that printed paper is not important, and that everyone should ignore the extremists on both sides.

This will be available here http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/programmes/thought/week.shtml some time later today.

Edit to add: incidentally, I wonder whether the Korans that Jones intended/intends to burn were translations or the original Arabic. As I understand it (and this came via commentators to Pharyngula during Crackergate so it could be wrong) translations of the Koran are not regarded with the same reverence as the original, and there wouldn't be the same objections, even among the traditionalists, to them being desecrated.

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Similar things were being said on PM last night.

The problem is that none of the press seems able to ignore a nutter, and that the religious extremists are all-too-ready to take advantage of any opportunity.

Personally, I think the whole lot ought to be mocked and laughed at - the latest Jesus and Mo cartoon says it perfectly.


Those are two very sane responses.

Indeed. I was most struck by Ms Siddiqui, with whom I often disagree intellectually, talking straightforward sense.

What they're actually doing doesn't much matter. During the Dutch cartoon controversy, a couple of imams invented and circulated some cartoons of their own, which were far more offensive than the originals. The Taliban can claim anything it wants, and how will Afghani peasants without electricity know otherwise?

By creating this much publicity, the US media have maximized the effectiveness of any violence the Taliban organizes in response, and saying it's expected.

The Taliban's aim isn't, except incidentally, to stop Quran-burnings in the US. It's to maximize hostility to the US in Afghanistan. Their concern is simply with how they can spin this to stir up the most hatred.

I would agree with you - but it would make it easier for conservative but not militant Muslims (and they do exist) to ignore the media circus.

I'd agree with you about the relevance of the burnings to the Taliban. With just the media circus they've probably got all the fuel they really need, regardless of whether the burning goes ahead.

Meanwhile, the Quran burnings are stirring up hatred against Muslims within the US who are often from minority ethnic groups and are, asides from their religion also coming under the overarching label of "Islam", entirely unconnected to extremist groups abroad.

Also, lil shepard, yes I think you are right. Translated versions of the Koran aren't viewed as quite so worthy of reverence as copies in Arabic (though there are some copies containing both Arabic AND a translation and I think those are still considered worthy of reverence). Naturally even a translated version is upsetting because of the statement it makes. If some creationist group started a bonfire out of copies of Darwin's "The Origin Of Species", I don't think the lack of reverence for the book would prevent the gesture from seeming threatening and hurtful. (Though admittedly we'd probably laugh at them. I think the test is whether the event is likely to be accompanied by violent attacks.)

Siddiqui comments that "the truth" is contained in the words and not in a physical book. While she and I may not agree on "the truth", she has a point. What's more, coming from a moderate (it may, I think, be more accurate to say "liberal") Muslim makes it more important.

The copy on the top of the stack on the table in Mr.Jones "church" was definitely a translation (didn't catch the name of the translator but it was something like I.M.Makingthisup)


No one tell him until afterwards!

Sadly, the actions of a LA Lutheran minister to have a Koran blessed and given to a local mosque will be ritually ignored by all the press.

This northern Florida jerk is an old narcissist enjoying his 15 minutes of fame. I long for his obscurity. I wish everyone would ignore him.

Seven of the rescuers who died trying to save people on September 11th were also Muslim. Funny how "Brother Jones" skillfully ignores this.

Edited at 2010-09-10 05:45 pm (UTC)

Well, he is also ignoring the facts;

a) it ain't a mosque,
b) there is a mosque, long established, nearer to "ground zero",
c) there are a large number of bars, strip joints and what appear to be brothels nearer to "ground zero", and
d) most New Yorkers are, apparently, pro the building of the cultural centre.

Jones' real issues are racism and ignorance. He's only recently tried to connect the not-a-mosque to his crap. Northern Florida is the south. It's as different geo-politically from Southern Florida (Walt Disney World, etc.) as South Korea is from North Korea. It may as well be Alabama.

The anti-not-a-mosque garbage is a completely engineered outrage. It's the GOP attempting to fan anti-Muslim sentiment and trying to connect it to Obama. They don't care that it's untrue. They merely see it as useful.

New Yorkers are strongly in favor of the Islamic cultural center being built. The ones carping on it amount to about twenty, but they're getting the coverage because of the Republicans.

It's also two frickin' blocks from Ground Zero. In NYC, in terms of proximity, that's one heckuva long distance.

Edited at 2010-09-10 10:04 pm (UTC)

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