CNN's "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door" really brings home how real and visceral post-9/11 hatred of Islam remains. Its tragically ironic counterpart is on display in Afghanistan, where other groups of misled believers went on a murderous rampage in Mazar-e-Sharif and Kandahar. And the Florida pastor, Terry Jones, whose burning of the Koran inspired at least 20 deaths in Afghanistan, says this for himself: "It was intended to stir the pot; if you don’t shake the boat, everyone will stay in their complacency." Twenty deaths: stirred in the pot, shaken in the boat.
So it falls to David Petraeus and Mark Sedwill to make a plea for sanity. An ISAF statement today worth repeating:
In view of the events of recent days, we feel it is important on behalf of ISAF and NATO members in Afghanistan to reiterate our condemnation of any disrespect to the Holy Qu'ran and the Muslim faith. We condemn, in particular, the action of an individual in the United States who recently burned the Holy Qu'ran.
We also offer condolences to the families of all those injured and killed in violence which occurred in the wake of the burning of the Holy Qu'ran.
We further hope the Afghan people understand that the actions of a small number of individuals, who have been extremely disrespectful to the Holy Qu'ran, are not representative of any of the countries of the international community who are in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people.
I'm not a religious man. But every believer I've ever encountered maintains what I consider an admirable belief in the wondrous and seemingly infinite complexity of his or her central religious text, to be understood only after a lifetime of rigorous examination. So how can someone of that perspective believe that a different believer's central text is easy enough to understand based on some selective quotations pushed by ideologues?