Fierce Reaction to Now-Cancelled Qu'ran Burn Plan
by HANA H. in Tehran
10 Sep 2010 04:32
Grand ayatollah demanded Florida church "be closed forever."[ dispatch ] Calls by American pastor Terri Jones to burn the Muslim holy book on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which he retracted Thursday, infuriated the Muslim world and in particular the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Jones, who heads the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, had planned to torch the Qu'ran this Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York City, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
The plan had drawn worldwide condemnation. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the controversial move "disrespectful and disgraceful" and the Vatican council described the Florida church's scheme as "deplorable acts of violence."
The stance taken by the United States and the Vatican had been unsuccessful in alleviating the concerns of Muslim clerics. On Wednesday, Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpayegani (pictured) warned U.S. President Barack Obama and Pope Benedetto XVI against the move, saying, "Desecrating this holy book is the desecration of all sanctities and the prophets, especially Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and the Virgin Mary."
"The horrendous news of a U.S. church's plan to burn copies of the Qu'ran announces to the world the depth of evil, malevolence, and animosity against humane values and the school of prophets as well as the misteachings of the modern [day] Church," a statement carried by the Grand Ayatollah's website said.
Warning the Christian world of the consequences of desecrating the Qu'ran, the Shia cleric demanded the arrest of the American pastor and that "his church must be closed forever."
Safi Golpayegani is regarded in the Shia faith as a Marja' Taghlid (source of emulation). Clerics with that status have ultimate power over their followers, who are bound by sharia to carry out the orders of their Marja'. They are among the order of clergy who have the power to order their followers to engage in jihad.
The Iranian interests section at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington also addressed the matter, in a message congratulating Iranian Americans on Eid ul-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. The communication implored Iranian nationals residing in the United States to help spread the "humanitarian message of Islam" and the "Qu'ran's message of peace and friendship" against the group of "ignorant individuals who want to burn the Qu'ran."
"Kindly give us the [email] addresses of your non-Iranian friends who are interested in learning about Islam and the Qu'ran, and the interests section will provide you with a free copy of the Holy Book," the message by caretaker Mostafa Rahmati read.
Despite the fierce reaction of Iranian clergy to burning the Qu'ran, setting fire to the holy books of other faiths is not unheard of in the Islamic Republic.
On May 30, the Principlist Alef website quoted an unnamed security official who claimed that U.S. troops in Iraq are responsible for smuggling doctored Bibles and Torahs into Iran via West Azerbaijan province.
The unnamed source revealed that hundreds of copies of doctored Bibles and Torahs had been seized in the Sardasht border area and burned. He did not elaborate on how security forces had established the distorted nature of the sacred books.
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