August 24, 2010

Gainesville battles Burn Koran Day protest

by Brian Turner

The city of Gainesville in Florida, United States, is finding itself the unwelcome centre of attenion after a small group of extremist Christians living there announced they would organise “an International Burn the Koran Day”.

The Dove World Outreach Center, run by pastor Terry Jones, who has published a work titled “Islam is of the Devil”, aims to hold the event on 9/11.

The announcement has caused international consternation and condemnation.

While the group is currently labelled as “fringe” by authorities in the US, it has already been causing local problems in Gainesville, protesting against the city’s first openly homosexual mayor, as well as protesting outside of existing Mosques against the spread of Islam.

According to Mayor Craig Lowe, “The Dove World Outreach Center is a tiny fringe group and an embarrassment to our community. Gainesville is a place that values every person. We may be of different religions, sexual orientations, races, genders, national origins, or ages, but all are welcome here in our efforts to build a better community both locally and globally.”

Gainesville has prohibited the event, citing regulations which bans “open burning and outdoor burning unless otherwise specified”.

However, militant white Christian groups have come out in support of The Dove World Outreach Center, stating that they will set up armed guards to allow the book burning.

It remains to be seen in what way the situation will develop, but the underlying tension remains that in a country that proclaims the rights of freedom and religious expression, Islam is becoming increasingly intolerated.

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