Radical Muslim groups around the world plan to burn American flags in protest of Florida Pastor Terry Jones intention to burn copies of the Koran on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks on New York's World Trade Center towers, Sky News reported on Thursday.
According to the report, the former head of an Islamist organization outlawed by the British government in January, Islam4UK, initiated the call to protest 'International Burn-a-Koran Day.'
US commander: Burning Koran endangers troops
Anjem Choudary has called for the burning of the US flag outside American embassies around the world in response to what Pastor Jones is planning in Florida. Choudary claimed to have support from leaders of Islamist groups in Belgium, Switzerland, Indonesia and elsewhere.
The report comes a day after Rev. Terry Jones said he has
received more than 100 death threats and has started wearing a
.40-caliber pistol strapped to his hip but still did not back off his
plan to burn the book Muslims consider the word of God and
insist be treated with the utmost respect. The 58-year-old minister said
the death threats started not long after he proclaimed in July that he
would stage "International Burn-a-Koran Day."
Supporters, though, have been mailing copies of the holy text to his church of about 50 followers to be incinerated in a bonfire on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Gen. David Petraeus took the rare step of a military leader taking a position on a domestic matter when he warned in an e-mail to The Associated Press that "images of the burning of a Koran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence."
Jones responded that he is also concerned but is "wondering, 'When do we stop?'" He refused to cancel the protest at his Dove World Outreach Center but said he was still praying about it.
"How much do we back down? How many times do we back down?" Jones told the AP. "Instead of us backing down, maybe it's time to stand up. Maybe it's time to send a message to radical Islam that we will not tolerate their behavior."
Jones gained some local notoriety last year when he posted signs in front of his church declaring "Islam is of the Devil." But his Koran-burning idea attracted wider attention. It drew rebukes from Muslim nations and at home as an emotional debate was taking shape over the proposed Islamic center near the ground zero site of the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York.
His actions most likely would be protected by the First Amendment's right to free speech. The US Supreme Court has made clear in several landmark rulings that speech deemed offensive to many people, even the majority of people, cannot be suppressed by the government unless it is clearly directed to intimidate someone or amounts to an incitement to violence, legal experts said.
The fire department has denied Jones a required burn permit, but he said lawyers have told him he has the right to burn the Korans, with or without the city's permission.
Legal or not, US Attorney General Eric Holder during a meeting Tuesday with religious leaders to discuss recent attacks on Muslims and mosques around the US called the planned burning idiotic and dangerous, according to a Justice Department official. The official requested anonymity because the meeting was private.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton added her disapproval at a dinner in observance of Iftar, the breaking of the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
"I am heartened by the clear, unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful, disgraceful act that has come from American religious leaders of all faiths," Clinton said.
At the White House, spokesman Robert Gibbs echoed the concerns raised by Petraeus. "Any type of activity like that that puts our troops in harm's way would be a concern to this administration," Gibbs told reporters.
The Koran according to Jones, is "evil" because it espouses something other than biblical truth and incites radical, violent behavior among Muslims.
Muslims consider the Koran along with any printed material containing its verses or the name of Allah or the Prophet Muhammad to be sacred. Any intentional damage or show of disrespect Koran is deeply offensive.
Jones' Dove Outreach Center is independent of any denomination. It
follows the Pentecostal tradition, which teaches that the Holy Spirit
can manifest itself in the modern day. Pentecostals often view
themselves as engaged in spiritual warfare against satanic forces.
world's leading Sunni Muslim institution of learning, Al-Azhar
University in Egypt, accused the church of stirring up hate and
discrimination, and called on other American churches speak out against
Last month, Indonesian Muslims demonstrated outside the US
Embassy in Jakarta, threatening violence if Jones goes through with it.
dismisses the response of the other churches as "cowardly." He said
even if they think burning Koran is extreme, Christian ministers should
be standing with him in denouncing the principles of Islam.