On 9/11 and the madness of the threatened Koran burnings
By Dean I Weitzman, Esq. on September 11th, 2010
As the ninth anniversary of the horrors of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and rural Pennsylvania approached in the last several months, our attention was diverted by a small town Florida preacher who threatened to burn copies of the Muslim holy book, the Koran, on this somber American day of memorials.
The pastor, Terry Jones, told the world that his plan to burn Korans on today’s 9/11 anniversary was meant to protest the Muslim holy book because it is “full of lies” and that the burnings were his right under the First Amendment as an American Christian, according to a story in The New York Times.
As his planned burnings neared, much of the world reacted strongly and negatively, and Jones shelved his plans – at least temporarily. Just two days ago, Jones, the pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., made another announcement to the world – that he had canceled his Koran demonstration as part of an alleged agreement with Muslim leaders, according to another New York Times story.
Jones claimed that he canceled the Koran burnings after leaders of the Islamic center project – called Park51 – said they would relocate the project from its planned new home a few blocks from Ground Zero, where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center fell nine years ago today.
The problem, however, is that that no such “agreement” truly appears to have been reached, according to news accounts. Muslim leaders say they made no such arrangement with Jones. The pastor has since traveled to New York in an to attempt to meet with Muslim leaders to discuss the plans, but the certainty of any such meeting is in dispute.
Stunningly, in an interview this morning on NBC’s Today Show in New York, Jones now says his protest plans have changed. “We will definitely not burn the Koran,” he said.
In the meantime, we have all been sidetracked by this attention-mongering circus act as the anniversary of 9/11 has approached, diverting the world’s focus from this day of sorrow, senseless murders and slow rebirth following the most deadly acts of terrorism in our nation’s history.
The original threats by Jones and his 50-member Gainesville church to burn copies of the Koran continue to be a global disgrace.
His intolerance and hatred for the Muslim holy book is no better than the professed hatred of America that is consistently voiced by Osama bin Laden, the leader of the Al Qaeda terrorist group that was behind the 9/11 attacks on America.
Jones and his hatred are just as repulsive as bin Laden’s hatred for our country.
They are both intolerant of how other people practice their religious faiths and live their lives in our world.
They both seek to paint anyone they don’t agree with using a broad brush of hatred.
For Jones and his fanaticism, the Koran and everyone who is a Muslim are evil, with no redeeming qualities.
That mirrors bin Laden himself, whose own insane fanaticism abhors everything about America, Americans and those who are not believers in the Muslim faith.
It is even reminiscent of former German dictator Adolph Hitler and his insane hatred of Jews that led to The Holocaust and the deaths of millions of innocent people who were slaughtered during World War II in the name of ethnic cleansing.
This is an evil triad – Jones, bin Laden and Hitler.
All of this makes Jones not too different from bin Laden himself, the very man who celebrated in victory as the Twin Towers fell in New York and as the Pentagon burned in Washington nine years ago today when his acts of terrorism, prejudice and hate shattered our nation.
Let us all remember, however, that Jones does not speak for America.
He has, in fact, no right to even attempt or pretend to speak for America.
Our nation is seriously divided and polarized about whether or not the Muslim center should be built within a few blocks of Ground Zero in New York.
So be it. That’s a matter to be discussed, weighed and resolved by city officials and others in New York based on the law and related factors.
We believe the Muslim center has just as much of a right to be located in its proposed spot near Ground Zero as a Christian church or a synagogue would have if it were proposed there.
How can we say that?
Because counter to Jones and his twisted beliefs, not every Muslim is a terrorist.
Not every Muslim hates America.
Not every Muslim can be painted with the same brush of hatred and fanaticism that Osama bin Laden himself uses to paint all Americans.
In fact, many Muslims worked and honored their sacred religion right inside the World Trade Center, on the 17th floor of the south tower, according to a story in The New York Times. A Muslim prayer room had been long-established there to give the many Muslims who worked in the buildings a place to pray through their work days, in accordance with their customs.
“Opponents of the Park51 project say the presence of a Muslim center dishonors the victims of the Islamic extremists who flew two jets into the towers,” the New York Times story said. “Yet not only were Muslims peacefully worshiping in the twin towers long before the attacks, but even after the 1993 bombing of one tower by a Muslim radical, Ramzi Yousef, their religious observance generated no opposition” inside the buildings.
“We weren’t aliens,” Sinclair Hejazi Abdus-Salaam, 60, told the Times. Abdus-Salaam was an electrician who was working inside the south tower on the fateful day when the terrorist attacks unfolded. “We had a foothold there. You’d walk into the elevator in the morning and say, ‘Salaam aleikum,’ (peace be with you) to one construction worker and five more guys in suits would answer, ‘Aleikum salaam.’ ”
So what does this all mean?
It means that we should all take time today, on this ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, to remember the things that make our nation so strong and so important to us.
We should remind ourselves that we have the freedoms to live our lives, worship the God of our own beliefs and to simultaneously allow others to live their lives and worship their own Gods in whatever means they see fit.
We don’t have to push our views or beliefs on anyone else, and we allow others to hold and have their own beliefs.
This is one of the most powerful strengths of our nation, of our American heritage and one of the poignant memories that we still have about what was occurring every day inside the Twin Towers before they were destroyed.
Ironically, the terrorists were able to destroy those majestic buildings, but they weren’t able to destroy our American beliefs in personal choice, religious freedom and the power to disagree with each other.
The recent discourse about the location of the Muslim center in New York and Jones and his Koran burning threats has a silver lining.
Jones’ plans inspired immediate and very vocal protests and outcries from around our nation and the world, which shows again that evil can eventually be overcome by real thought and educated reasoning.
Let us all remember that lesson today as we mourn the losses of the almost 3,000 people who died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in rural Pennsylvania where United Flight 93 crashed as terrorists tried to fly the speeding jetliner into a planned third target in Washington before being interrupted by brave passengers who foiled their plans.
May peace with you on this solemn day, and may whichever God you personally believe in bless our diverse and culturally rich nation.