On the Mark: The difference between a mosque and the Koran

MARK STRAIN
Mark Strain

Mark Strain

The closer we got to the anniversary of 9/11, the more crazy the world seemed to get. If it wasn’t bad enough that planning is underway to build a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attack, certainly a poke in the eye to America, then a pastor of a small congregation in Gainesville threatened to burn copies of the Islamic religious book commonly known as the Koran.

The placement of a mosque near the 9/11 towers has been an issue for quite a while and one that would have been hard not to notice. The plan to burn the books, which was canceled at the last minute, by a foolish pastor in central Florida with a congregation of about 50 people should not have been so noticeable and certainly should have never been considered newsworthy. Unfortunately his effort to gain attention was reported internationally and doing so ignited some equally irrational responses from around the world.

As beneficial as the Internet is for providing data and communication nearly instantly throughout the world, when someone figures out an absurd way to have a spotlight shone upon them for however brief a moment, that instantaneous recognition can be difficult to control.

There is a huge difference between the building of a mosque near the 9/11 site and the pastor in central Florida. In reference to the furor over the mosque site, Obama has weighed in with the statement: “...if you could build a church on the site, you could build a synagogue on the site, if you could build a Hindu temple on a site, then you should be able to build a mosque on the site.”

Wrong. This is not a land use issue. The other religions were not the motivation of the insane terrorists of the 9/11 attack. Allowing the religious group that the terrorists used as their reason for attacking us, and one many members still use to continue their hatred of America, to erect a building in which to worship just down the street is not a simple zoning decision. Just as the crazy pastor in Gainesville has shown incredible disrespect, those insisting that a mosque be built in close proximity to the 9/11 attack when many viable alternatives have been offered are being equally disrespectful.

The pastor in Gainesville is wrong. Nothing is gained by burning someone’s religious symbols. Yet equally wrong are the many fanatics of the Islam religion that have demonstrated in many parts of the world against this pastor. He is nothing without notoriety. He is only more when he is given status by those in opposition. His exposure started earlier this year with a simple posting on a website and a YouTube video. Instead of ignoring him, his antics were picked up by bloggers and then church groups and finally the mainstream media.

A peculiar pastor in central Florida with a congregation of 50 is now at the center of international attention. How absurd is that? He has made it to talk shows and even bigger audiences making him a household name whereas before he was just one unknown guy looking for a way to become famous.

The story moved around the world’s media until finally Gen. David Petraeus made the mistake of discussing the book burning at a news conference. That was followed by comments from Hillary Clinton and even Obama, who then instructed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to actually call the pastor.

The quantity of Korans this pastor was going to use for his demonstration has varied from time to time but the most commonly noted number was 200 copies. To offset his destruction of this many Korans, an American-Islamic group had proposed to give away 200,000 copies.

So what are we really talking about ... worldwide demonstrations causing death and destruction over a previously insignificant individual who threatened to destroy maybe 200 copies of a book that can be printed again and again by the millions!

Weigh that in contrast to the brick and mortar creation being proposed near the 9/11 attack…as crazy as the Gainesville pastor is in proposing to burn the Koran, the reactions of those in opposition to him are even more senseless. Compare those reactions to the scale of the American reaction to a mosque near Ground Zero and there doesn’t seem to be much question as to who is more tolerant.

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