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02 May 2012

WEA condemns Qur’an burning

WEA condemns Qur’an burning

A controversial US pastor publicly set fire to a Qur’an over the weekend, despite personal pleas against it from the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA).

Pastor Terry Jones, who leads a 25-member congregation in Gainesville, Florida, publicly burned the Muslim holy book on Saturday (28 April) in protest against the imprisonment of Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.

The Iranian pastor faces death after having been tried and convicted of apostasy and attempting to evangelise Muslims.

Mr Jones, who first came into the public eye in September 2010 when he threatened to burn the Qur’an, went ahead with the inflammatory action ignoring pleas from the WEA just the day before.

In a meeting on Friday, Geoff Tunnicliffe, secretary-general of the WEA, personally challenged the pastor to listen to fellow Christian leaders in the US who were against his proposed action.

He also asked him to hear the concerns of a Christian pastor from an Islamic country. Rev Daniel Ho from Malaysia, who was at the meeting, asked: “Would you be willing to come to Malaysia and look into the faces of my family and tell them why you burned the Qur’an, if your action caused my death?”

Psator Jones had no answer, but insisted that God had spoken to him about defacing Islam in desecrating its Qur’an and doing what he could to “wake up America”.

Mr Tunnicliffe said: “As I travel the world, I recognise the tensions between Muslims and Christians. However, it is critical that we find respectful ways of dealing with our differences. Not only is it important that we learn how to live with respect and in peace; for us as Christians, it is our calling to follow Jesus in his ways and in the spirit of his love.”

Joining the WEA in condemning the actions, Dr Dave Landrum, director of advocacy at the Evangelical Alliance UK, said: “Throughout history, Christianity has been synonymous with freedom, and not least religious freedom.

“The Bible tells us that all freedom comes with responsibility, and that means we are obliged to acknowledge and respect the existence of other views and religions – even when we fundamentally disagree with them. The WEA statement is a welcome contribution to a public dialogue that values religious freedom and acknowledges the reality of difference.”