09/07/2010, 00.00
AFGHANISTAN
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For Petraeus, burning the Qur‘an is useless and dangerous

In an unusual move for a soldier, top US military commander in Afghanistan warns against the initiative of an Evangelical clergyman to burn the Qur‘an to commemorate 9/1.
Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The top US commander in Afghanistan said last night the planned burning of the Qur‘an on 11 September by a small Florida Church “could endanger troops and [. . .] the overall effort”. General David Petraeus was referring to plans by the Evangelical Dove World Outreach Center of Gainesville (Florida), which is led by Rev Terry Jones, to set fire to copies of the Muslim holy book.

According to the general, the Taliban would exploit the demonstration for propaganda purposes. “It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and,” it “could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world” where “we are engaged with the Islamic community,” he stressed.

Rev Stephanie Sapp, spokeswoman for the centre, said no one from the Pentagon or other federal agencies has expressed concern or asked that the event be cancelled. She did say however that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had discussed security measures.

In any event, Pentagon officials hope that General Petraeus' statement—an unusual move since military commanders rarely get involved in politics—would convince Mr Jones to change his plans.

In the meantime, Asian Churches have slammed the initiative. Indian and Indonesian bishops have joined other Christian groups and Muslim representatives to demand the cancellation of the event, and called instead for “dialogue as the only path for mutual understanding”.

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