Archive for the ‘Dove World Outreach Center’ tag
Related to my last post, here is a chilling yet stunning piece by University of Minnesota, Morris associate professor, P.Z. Myers, who puts forward what he calls a “black and white” case against the loss of life in light of the recent killings in Afghanistan during riots over Koran burnings in Gainesville, Fla. The entire thing is more than worth a read. Myers writes:
I’m an extremist in this debate, I will freely confess. I hold an absolute view that no killing is ever justified, that individuals have the necessity to defend themselves against assailants, but that even that does not grant moral approval to snuffing out the life of another. Don’t even try to pull out a scale and toss a copy of the Koran on one side and the life of a single human being on the other — the comparison is obscene. Do not try to tell me that some people are ‘moderates’ when they tolerate or even support and applaud war and death and murder for any cause, whether it is oil, or getting even, or defending the honor of wood pulp and ink.
The bone is bleached white. The flesh is burnt black. The blood splashes scarlet. You can’t render it in grays and pastels without losing sight of the truth.
Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings. — Heinrich Heine
As ever, Hitchens brings his acid wit to bear in writing about recent violent protests in Kandahar and Mazar-i-Sharif and calls to burn humans in response to Pastor Terry Jones’ and Dove World Outreach Center’s decision to torch copies of the Koran:
How dispiriting to see, once again, the footage of theocratic rage in Kandahar and Mazar-i-Sharif. The same old dreary formula: self-righteous frenzy married to a neurotic need to take offense; the easy resort to indiscriminate violence and cruelty; the promulgation of makeshift fatwas by mullahs on the make; those writhing mustaches framing crude slogans of piety and hatred, and yelling for death as if on first-name terms with the Almighty. The spilling of blood and the spoliation of property—all for nothing, and ostensibly “provoked” by the corny, brainless antics of a devout American nonentity, notice of whose mere existence is beneath the dignity of any thinking person.
Dove World Outreach center apparently takes the name of its church very seriously, since it seems to have spread its influence, quite like a malignant tumor, from its tiny location in Gainesville, Fla., to the far reaches of the Middle East. Why Afghan President Hamid Karzai feels the need to even bother himself with such tripe coming from a congregation of about 70, one can only wonder, but bother himself he has. According to Hitchens:
Unlike some provincial mullahs, Karzai also knows perfectly well that the U.S. government is constitutionally prohibited from policing religious speech among its citizens. Yet, when faced with the doings of the aforementioned moronic cleric from Gainesville, he went out of his way to intensify mob feeling. This caps a long period where his behavior has come to seem like a conscious collusion with warlordism, organized crime, and even with elements of the Taliban. Already under constant pressure to make consistent comments about Syria and Libya, the Obama administration might want to express itself more directly about a man for whose fast-decomposing regime we are shedding our best blood.
Andrei Fedyashin provides a detailed look of the ugly situation, with the following to aptly sum up matters:
What Jones has is not a church, although it is often described as such. His congregation of 50 to 70 people qualifies it more accurately as a very small fundamentalist sect. Normal Muslims should, therefore, not take broader offense, but they, too, have their own such sects at the other end of the confessional spectrum.
Terry Jones has at least one sin for which he needs to be absolved.
According to a New York Times report today, one man is now dead following protests outside a NATO office in western Afghanistan over Jones’ “stunt,” as President Obama has called it, to burn copies of the Koran on 9/11 in his church’s own protest against Islam and, presumably, against the proposed mosque and community center near the Ground Zero site.
“A fringe Florida preacher may have suspended his Koran-burning, but word reached Afghanistan too late for 24-year-old Muhammed Daoud,” the report says.
And that death could have and indeed would have been avoided had Jones not gone on his hysterical, fire-branded campaign against Islam, and had the media simply ignored that which deserves no limelight. I and many other bloggers have given the story attention, but, at least in my case, I gave it attention only to condemn it and only after large media outfits had already begun courting the disastrous story.
But all this matters not for Daoud, of course, and I hope — but I highly doubt it will — prick like a stick on Jones’ conscience. Again, given what we know about this person, one willing to risk the security of his country and that of the men and women serving in Muslim-dominated countries — not to mention native Middle Easterners — to make his point, we can’t rightly pen a very positive account of the man’s ability to care for his fellow human beings.
Also late this week, in what appears to be a situation in which no one quite knows who said what, Jones is claiming that local imam Muhammad Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, had made a deal with him to move the location of Park 51, the official name of the center. Thus, Jones would not hold the Koran burning. But Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man heading up the project, has on multiple occasions said the plan was moving forward. Here is Rauf’s column published recently in the New York Times and a statement made in an interview with ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour.
“Let’s say we moved under this current circumstance with this dialogue,” Rauf told Amanpour. “What will be the headline tomorrow in the Muslim world? ‘Islam under attack in America.’ That’s the theme of it. ‘Mosque forcibly removed by whatever.’ That will feed the radicals. So diffusing terrorism is a necessity for our national security.”
It will feed the radicals indeed. And as Rauf notes in his column, the mosque and community center will not be just for Muslims, and nowhere have I read that the center’s purpose was anything other than about bringing people of different faiths together and fostering an atmosphere of mutual existence. It is only the extremists like Jones and his counterparts in the Middle East who eschew such co-existence.
“Our name, Cordoba, was inspired by the city in Spain where Muslims, Christians and Jews co-existed in the Middle Ages,” Rauf said, later adding that the center would include separate places for prayer by which Muslims, Christians, Jews and others can approach their own respective deities.
Regarding Jones’ claim about the movement of the center’s location, Musri said Jones “stretched his words” in a news conference. My opinion: Musri may have conceded more than he was ready to concede in talks with Jones in order to avert the disaster that may have taken place had the book burning went as planned. I highly doubt that Musri overstepped his authority and said outright that the center’s location would be changed for sure. He may have simply implied something along those lines to appease Jones to curb the threat of protests or the loss of life. Or, Jones could be lying, or the truth could be somewhere in between.
Nevertheless the efforts are already too little too late for at least one person. Jones should return to the fire and brimstone pulpit from whence he came and get out of the public sphere, for outside his inflated world of angels and demons and eternal destinations — “one nice and one nasty experience,” as Christopher Hitchens puts it, — he’s a danger to civil society.
And so, thankfully, we hear that Terry Jones, the much-condemned pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., will not, at least in the immediate future, oversee a Koran book-burning party that would have, according to any person with a functioning brain, and also to senior officials in the U.S. Military, sparked widespread protest and possibly widespread harm to American soldiers and even other Americans.
As is The New York Times‘ typical style, the newspaper is out ahead of any other potential angles related to this story. Surrounding this foray is a sense that Dove World Outreach Center is attempting, in a quite macabre and dangerous way, to gain some notoriety for itself. As we have already seen (see my related post) the congregation numbers about 50 people. Most very active but humble congregations range from 100-1,000 members, some more. But in this case, we are talking about a 50-person congregation. That’s a small number.
As the Times notes, “Mr. Jones was able to put himself at the center of those issues by using the news lull of summer and the demands of a 24-hour news cycle to promote his anti-Islam cause. He said he consented to more than 150 interview requests in July and August … By the middle of this week, the planned Koran burning was the lead story on some network newscasts, and topic No. 1 on cable news – an extraordinary amount of attention for a marginal figure with a very small following.”
Thus, correctly, the Times notes that a very, very – and I would add another “very” – small congregation that matters not in any substantial way has, for some reason, garnered the attention of not only the leader of the free world, but of the international community.
Since Jones’ plan of Koran-burning is problematic on so many levels, to the extent that it could have put his congregation and many Americans in jeopardy, it leads me to believe that it was, at least on some level, a subversive and also a very dumb and selfish attempt to gain attention for his very small church as much as anything else.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it “disrespectful and disgraceful.”
U.S. Attorney General rightly condemned it “idiotic and dangerous.”
Dangerous indeed. But, heck, for crazies who equally care little about this life or human solidarity, it isn’t terribly surprising, just maddening that we have word today from the BBC that the Dove World Outreach Center (I wonder who in the world they hope to reach) that the church plans to burn copies of the Koran to commemorate (I would say, shame) the upcoming anniversary of 9/11.
According to the BBC story:
Gen David Petraeus, the top US commander in Afghanistan, said on Monday that the action could cause problems “not just in Kabul, but everywhere in the world”.
“It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems,” he said in a statement.
The only bright side to all this is that the church numbers only 50, but we well know that it takes no more than 5 or 10 or even 1 to pose a serious threat to us all. The BBC article also said:
Pastor Jones – author of a book entitled Islam is of the Devil – has said he understands the general’s concerns but that it was “time for America to quit apologizing for our actions and bowing to kings”.
Another pastor at the church told the BBC that members intended to burn several hundred copies of the holy book on Saturday evening, the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, in defiance of an order by the city not to hold an open air bonfire.
I think “pastor” is too dignified a title for Terry Jones. Nevertheless, I wonder what happened to the edict from Romans 13:1-7 that says believers should obey the laws of the land? I guess that flies out the window when there’s some good hate to spread. But of course, proponents say, God’s law is higher than man’s law, especially when we are actively campaigning against another religion.
Frightening, just frightening what some folks are cooking up …
Pastor Terry Jones of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., whose plan to memorialize 9/11 by burning copies of the Koran, represents everything that is wrong with evangelical America and with our collective response to the debate about the proposed mosque near Ground Zero: intolerant, filled with animosity toward those who don’t believe as he does and as fanatical as the rest. Jones forgets that it wasn’t Muslims in general that performed the heinous acts in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, but religious fanatics like himself, willing to do whatever it takes to assure that their particular savior’s message is heard. In short, no better or worse than those who are willing to live or die for their faith. For believers, of course, it makes no difference.
Religion, if left unchecked and nonsequestered, will tear our existence as human beings apart and that fills me with despair. And as much contempt as Pastor Jones might feel toward the Koran, I feel toward this type of dogged and demonizing intolerance toward other faiths. I don’t care what another human being believes, but if that belief oversteps its bounds and meanders into the public sphere, then there’s a problem. And this egging on of other religions, especially those known to be the harborers of terrorists is, there is no other way to put it, dumb to the Nth degree. But I don’t hold much faith that Pastor Jones has caught on to that nuance.