New York: A church in Florida, US, is reportedly planning to host an “International Burn a Quran Day” on the anniversary of the Sep 11, 2001, terror attack, a move that has been condemned by many Christians and Muslims.
The Dove World Outreach Centre in Gainesville, Florida, would host the event to remember 9/11 victims and take a stand against Islam, which it calls a “deceptive religion” and “of the devil”.
The church is promoting the event on its website and Facebook page and has invited Christians to burn the Muslim holy book at its premises from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“We believe that Islam is of the devil, that it’s causing billions of people to go to hell, it is a deceptive religion, it is a violent religion and that is proven many, many times,” church pastor Terry Jones was quoted as saying by the CNN.
The Facebook page has more than 1,600 fans. “Eternal fire is the only destination the Quran can lead people to, so we want to put the Quran in its place – the fire!” the page says.
The church also launched a YouTube video to disseminate the message.
“I mean ask yourself, have you ever really seen a really happy Muslim? As they’re on the way to Mecca? As they gather together in the mosque on the floor? Does it look like a real religion of joy?” Jones says in the YouTube video. “No, to me it looks like a religion of the devil.”
Jones also said he has written a book titled “Islam is of the Devil”, and that the church sells coffee mugs and shirts featuring the phrase.
Muslim and Christian groups have, meanwhile, launched a protest against the event.
The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) issued a statement urging the church to cancel the event, warning it could cause worldwide tension between the two religions.
“The NAE calls on its members to cultivate relationships of trust and respect with our neighbours of other faiths. God created human beings in his image, and therefore all should be treated with dignity and respect,” it said.
Another Facebook group with more than 3,100 fans said it stands “against the disrespect and intolerance that these people have for the Muslim people”.
An Islamic advocacy group – Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – has said it would give out 100,000 copies of the Quran to local, state and national leaders, in a bid to educate the public during the month-long fast of Ramadan.
“American Muslims and other people of conscience should support positive educational efforts to prevent the spread of Islamophobia,” CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said.