Florida pastor Terry Jones will undoubtedly offend and infuriate many people around the world if he follows through on a plan to burn Muslim Qurans at his church this weekend.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution will protect him, in the same way it allows the Ku Klux Klan to burn crosses and for protesters to torch the American flag.
Jones, pastor of about 50 followers at Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, has drawn condemnation from the White House, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, the Vatican, Muslim groups, military veterans and interfaith religious organizations for his plan to burn Qurans this Saturday on the ninth anniversary of the 2001 terror attacks.
Jones remains undeterred, saying he wants to dramatically emphasize his belief that the Quran is evil because it promotes violence and radicalism.
Muslims consider the Quran the sacred word of God and insist it be treated with the utmost respect, along with any printed material containing its verses or the name of Allah or the Prophet Muhammad.
Yet under U.S. court decisions, burning Qurans to make a point probably isn’t illegal.
Our view: nobody can deny that the Quran does promote violence and that many — though not all — Muslims resort to violence for a wide variety of reasons. That said, Jones’ planned bonfire is deliberately provocative and his plan says more about him than it says about Muslims.
Meanwhile radical Muslims have a difficult choice to make: act reasonably and protest peacefully, or engage in the kind of behavior that rightly leads people to criticize Islam as a religion of violence.