Burning Quran Perhaps Not The Best Idea, Says General David Petraeus : The Two-Way This weekend, on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, a pastor in Florida plans to hold a "Koran burning." The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan advises that might not be such a good idea.
NPR logo Burning Quran Perhaps Not The Best Idea, Says General David Petraeus

Burning Quran Perhaps Not The Best Idea, Says General David Petraeus

International Security Assistance Force commander and the head of NATO in Afghanistan General David Petraeus says a planned "Koran burning" in Florida could endanger U.S. troops. Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

As we reported earlier, this Weekend, on Sept. 11 no less, the Dove World Outreach Center is planning on burning a whole bunch of Quran. On their website they helpfully state they are doing it as an "act of love nor of hate," but rather because the "world is in bondage to the massive grip of the lies of Islam."

On their website they then go on to offer ten reasons that burning Korans is a very, very good idea.

Not so much, according to the commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus. Yesterday, just rumors of the burning led to hundreds of Afghans burning American flags, an effigy of the pastor calling for the book burning, and throwing rocks at a US convoy.

Today, Petraeus issued a statement saying basically, this is a really, really bad idea:

Images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan -- and around the world -- to inflame public opinion and incite violence. Such images could, in fact, be used as were the photos from Abu Gharyb. And this would, again, put our troopers and civilian in jeopardy and undermine our efforts to accomplish the critical mission here in Afghanistan.

In 2005, 15 people died and scores more were injured in Afghanistan after rumors spread -- false ones, mind you -- that interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had flushed a Quran down a toilet. Actual images of actual Korans being set aflame may have an even more powerful impact.

And this at a time when the whole thrust of the American adventure in Afghanistan is trying to woo the Afghan populace over to our side. At least General Petraeus seems to think burning their holy book is most likely not the quickest path to winning their hearts and minds.

The Dove Center does provide a handy list of "ten reasons to burn a Koran" on it's website. They also offer "Islam is of the Devil" t-shirts for sale.

But while most of their top ten list veers into the theological debate over interpretations of Islam which is certainly beyond the scope of this blog, there is one bit that leaps out, reason number four to burn a Koran:

The earliest writings that are known to exist about the Prophet Mohammad were recorded 120 years after his death. All of the Islamic writings (the Koran and the Hadith, the biographies, the traditions and histories) are confused, contradictory and inconsistent. Maybe Mohammad never existed. We have no conclusive account about what he said or did. Yet Moslems follow the destructive teachings of Islam without question.

Interestingly scholars of the Christian Gospels say that they weren't written until 40-60 years after the death of Jesus.

Professor Elaine Pagels, a religion professor at Princeton University, says that, while scholars are divided on the issue, many think that we don't know who wrote the gospels, and we don't know if they had any personal contact with Jesus.