Widespread anger over desecration threat marking ninth anniversary of 9/11 and its timing – a day after end of Ramadan
Threats by a US church to burn the Qur’an to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks – which coincides this year with the end of the holy month of Ramadan – have been angrily condemned across the Muslim and Arab worlds.
In Iran a government spokesman warned of an “uncontrolled” response, while a senior Syrian cleric urged Muslims to unite in the face of “the enemy”.
Lebanon’s Christian president, Michel Suleiman, issued a statement lambasting the threat from Gainesville, Florida, as being “in clear contradiction to the teachings of the Abrahamic religions and of dialogue amongst the three faiths”.
Mainstream media – sharply aware of the row over the plans for an Islamic centre near Ground Zero in New York – reported that the Floridian threat had been condemned by the US government and quoted General David Petraeus, head of US central command, who warned it would provide a propagande coup for tha Taliban that would stoke anti-American sentiment across the Muslim world.
Reactions to the affair featured prominently on the popular Arabic satellite TV channel al-Jazeera and its Saudi rival, al-Arabiya.
Some damage has clearly been done. “We are used to seeing the arrogant administrations in the USA and Europe take turns in offending Islam and the figure of the Prophet Muhammad, using different styles to stir repulsive sectarian fanaticism,” Abd al-Razzaq Mu’nis, a former Syrian deputy minster of religious affairs, told al-Aalam TV, an Iranian Arabic-language channel.
In Abu Dhabi the Khaleej Times condemned aan insane act by an extremist pastor”.
Ramin Mehmanparast, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, warned western countries not to “desecrate” Islamic objects of worship to avoid creating “sensitive situations between public opinion and Muslims”.
On Sunday thousands of Indonesians gathered outside the US embassy in Jakarta calling for “jihad to protect Qur’an”.
The timing of the controversy coincides with the end of Ramadan. Muslim and Arab countries will announce tonight whether the feast of Eid al-Fitr will start tomorrow or Friday, depending on the sighting of the new moon. Eid al-Fitr is one of the two biggest Muslim holidays of the year.
“There is a feeling of unease as Ed Al-Fitr is approaching, close to the anniversary 0f 9/11” a correspondent for the Saudi Arab News reported from Ohio. “There is a feeling of unease as Ed Al-Fitr is approaching, close to the anniversary 0f 9/11”
Commenting on the website of al-Manar TV– run by Lebanon’s Hezbollah – an Algerian named Lily commented: “Allah will protect his book before it is harmed. This Ramadan Muslims are praying to Allah to [deal with] the hateful crusaders.” An unnamed Moroccan wrote: “Provocations of this kind will only increase the power of Islam.”