>Sitting in my late father’s study while I work I’m reminded that both he and my mother taught Religious Education, my mother was actually head of department. One of the things that reminds me is the shelf of books on comparative religions that sits to the right of me as I work.

There is one pile in the middle of that shelf that is all about Islam. Some of those books I have read myself and indeed there are other books in my own collection that are also about Islam including my own copy of the Koran.

Therefore the fact that the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida is planning a ‘Burn the Koran Day’ for 11 September is a sad indictment. Maybe the American way doesn’t teach about other religions and their beliefs in the way that multi-cultural Britain does.

But the blogger Gay Patriot does pose an interesting question:

“How is a Florida church burning the Koran on 9/11 any different than an Islamist-inspired mosque being built in the Ground Zero debris zone?”

In his opinion “None. Both have the right to do it. But it isn’t the right thing to do.” but I’m going to disagree.

There is a difference. One is a incitement to hatred an act borne out of hatred fundamentalism. The other is trying to foster understanding and normality, showing that fundamentalism isn’t all their is in religion.

The former of course is the church in Florida, the second is the Islamic education centre that is looking to be set up in Manhattan.

There are forgotten victims of the 9-11 monstrosity, the innocent Muslim workers in the World Trade Centre. Not the terrorists but those who were working alongside their fellow man in those twin towers. Those who also lost their lives. Their families also come to Ground Zero on 9-11 to remember their dead, they then have to travel far away to find a Mosque that they can offer their prayers up in.

The vast majority or Muslims are not fundamentalists, however there is also a minority of Christians who are fundamentalists. Have any of the members of the Dove World Outreach Center actually opened a Koran to read it? Have any of them ever learnt what it means to be a everyday Muslim? Have any of them ever ventured into a Muslim community or lived alongside a Muslim community day to day to see them going about their lives?

Fighting fundamentalism with fundamentalism is not the way to go, that leads to religious wars, to crusades or jihad. It is just what this intolerance is, even the American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls it ‘disrespectful and disgraceful’.

With freedom of speech comes responsibility, as I was rewatching Footloose last night I was reminded of John Lithgow’s character the Pastor coming upon a book burning outside the school. He said:

“It is not the words in there that are bad, it’s what’s in here.” (tapping on his heart)

Maybe that is the salient lesson for those in Florida to look first into themselves.

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