Threat to burn Muslim holy book in US sparks protests


By Christine Lavelle

MEMBERS of the Scottish Afghan Society gathered outside Edinburgh’s US Consulate to protest against the decision not to stop an American church from burning the Quran on the anniversary of September 11.

More than 50 Scottish Muslims arrived at the Consulate building on Regent Terrace today to stage their protest for one hour.

Mohammed Asif, president of the society, rallied the group over a loudspeaker, while the others waved banners which read: “No to war, no to racism and no to Islamophobia”.

Mr Asif said the pastor of the small church in Florida – Reverend Terry Jones – is stirring up hatred against Muslims and that he should be stopped immediately.

He said: “We have asked the American government to arrest this man, he is causing anti-Muslim hatred and I cannot believe nothing has been done.

“There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, and this has hurt everyone’s feelings.

“Our faith is being humiliated.

“We have never gone to a church or mosque in Britain or America and start burning things.

“I am sure the police would have arrested us if we were the ones burning the Bible – something we would never do.”

Rebuilding faith relations

Mr Asif added that America has had a hard time since 11 September 2001, rebuilding relations between faiths.

He said: “Burning the Quran is going to aggravate the situation in Afghanistan, and more British and American soldiers are going to die as a result of the actions of others.

The protest, which was only arranged the same morning, was a plea to the American government to arrest Revered Jones, to stop what they believe is a ‘malicious’ act.

On Saturday (September 11) – the day the burning of the Quran is set to take place – the Scottish Afghan group plan to meet again in Glasgow’s George Square in greater numbers.

Mr Asif said: “I just hope this all stops because it is causing hatred between us and the rest of the world.

“We only arranged to come down here this morning and I am pleased with the response.

“The police have been extremely helpful and I am grateful to them for allowing us to demonstrate our upset.”

Rev Jones, who is known for posting signs proclaiming that Islam is the devil’s religion, says the American Constitution gives him the right to publicly set fire to the book that Muslims consider the word of God.

But the head of the Dove World Outreach Centre, in Gainsville, Florida has been sharply criticized by President Obama, who has called it a “stunt” that threatens the lives of American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and violates American principles of religious tolerance.