(Sept. 6) -- Throughout history, whenever books have been set on fire, passions have been unleashed.
In Gainesville, Fla., a pastor's plan to hold a public burning of Qurans to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has already set off angry protests from Afghanistan to Indonesia and elicited a formal response from the U.S. Embassy condemning the plan. Now, the book burning has another high-profile foe: Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of American forces fighting in that country.
"It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort," Petraeus told The Wall Street Journal. "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." Terry Jones, the pastor at Dove World Outreach Center, told MSNBC's Chris Matthews that his church has declared Sept. 11 as "International Burn a Quran Day," and added that he hoped the burning of the Muslim religion's holy text "will be as it is intended, as a warning."
That the proposed actions of Jones' church, which counts just 50 members in its congregation, should reverberate so loudly across the world is itself a telling sign of tensions between the West and the Muslim world, as well as what some see as a growing distrust of Islam in the United States.
From the controversy surrounding the so-called "ground zero mosque" in lower Manhattan, to the suspected arson at the construction site of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn., this year's anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks comes as Americans engage in a vocal debate over the role of Islam in the future of the nation.
While Gen. Petraeus' fears that "Burn a Quran" day will lead to violence against U.S. forces in Afghanistan and around the world, police in Gainesville are also preparing for possible violence in Florida as a result of the church's protest.
Pastor Behind Quran Burning Plan Makes Trip to NY
(Sept. 10) -- An associate of the pastor who once planned to burn copies of the Quran to mark the 9/11 anniversary says the Rev. Terry Jones is headed to New York aboard a Friday night flight.
K.A. Paul, a Christian evangelist who runs a ministry in Houston, says he bought the ticket for Jones to fly out of Orlando and land around 10:15 p.m. in New York. Paul provided The Associated Press with a copy of the itinerary and flight confirmation number.
Jones has said he planned to meet with the imam overseeing a proposed mosque and Islamic center to be built near ground zero.
Paul says Jones was able to sneak out of his Gainesville church without the media noticing.
Earlier Friday, Jones' son, Luke, said that the Quran-burning won't take place Saturday but couldn't say whether there would be a future event.