When the planned Qu'ran burning at Dove World Outreach Center made the national news, I groaned, having already heard about it for weeks, maybe even months prior through local news outlets. But when the event made international headlines this week, I shook my head. I'd rather Gainesville, Florida, be in the news for something much less divisive than this.
The global response to the church's self-proclaimed "International Burn a Qu'ran Day" has been harsh and violent. CNN reports
that thousands of Muslims protested outside the United States embassy in Indonesia. According to ABC News
, protesters in Afghanistan chanted, "Death to America," and burned flags and pictures of Dove World pastor Terry Jones. They then turned their anger on a U.S. military convoy, throwing rocks at it.
It's hard to believe what has started as the actions of a small local church has become an event of massive proportions -- and potentially deadly implications. It's even harder to believe that, despite condemnation from everyone from politicians
to the Pope
, despite violence and protests near and abroad, and despite the denial of a city permit
that would allow the group to burn copies of the Qu'ran legally, pastor Jones has but one response
: "We are still determined to do it."
Clearly tensions are mounting, and one has to wonder just what the fallout of this event will be. On the local level, Wayne Sapp, another vocal member of the Dove World congregation, told The Telegraph
his plan to protect himself:
"With the amount of threats we have received, we are taking precautions," he said, adding as he tapped his pistol: "We hope it turns out to be just a paperweight."
General David Petraeus told the Wall Street Journal
this week that the Qu'ran burning could incite potentially devastating violence against U.S. troops deployed overseas: "It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort. It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community."
Regardless of what you think about the right and wrong of this event, I urge you to pray for my city of Gainesville and for the people who reside here to be safe when, inevitably, things boil over.Do you think the planned Qu'ran burning at Dove World Outreach Center will have global implications? Do you think it will all blow over quickly? Are these worries based on solid facts or on the frenzy caused by the amount of media coverage this controversy has received?