When Terry Jones, a Florida pastor, announced his plan to burn Qurans on 9/11 with a tweet and an “International Burn a Koran Day” page on Facebook, he ignited an international conflagration of outrage.
As news spread, worldwide condemnation and anxiety mounted. At least two people died in a demonstration in Afghanistan. It seemed this obscure self-proclaimed pastor in Gainesville, Florida, was determined to carry out an action of catastrophic global consequences.
Now that the crisis is over, CNN asked contributors to write their observations of what happened, and what lessons the pastor’s threat and the events that followed can teach us.
Hate crimes against Muslims soared in the United States last year, according to a report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations released Wednesday. The number of hate crimes against members of the Muslim community jumped 52 per cent last year, from 93 incidents in 2003 to 141 in 2004. And the number of violent acts, discriminatory incidents and cases of harassment against Muslims rose 49 per cent between 2003 and 2004, to 1,522. CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad called the figures alarming and urged President George W Bush-‘whose statements after the (September 11, 2001) attacks were so important in helping to protect the well-being of the American Muslim community-to once again speak out against Islam phobic attitudes.’ The Annual Report Noted That Workplace Discrimination Against Muslims Was Less prevalent, while incidents involving police were on the rise, in the form of unjustified arrests and searches and abusive interrogations. Among the factors contributing to the rise in incidents, CAIR said, were the ‘lingering impact’ of fears following the September 11 attacks, heightened awareness of civil rights issues within the Muslim community and a ‘general increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric.’ ‘These disturbing figures come as no surprise given growing Islam phobic sentiments and a general misperception of Islam and Muslims,’ CAIR’s legal director, Arsalan Iftikhar, who authored the report, said in a statement.