09/08/2010, 00.00
IRAQ
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Iraqi Christians also condemn Qur‘an burning, says Kirkuk archbishop

Mgr Louis Sako issues a statement extending best wishes to the Muslim community on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr. He uses the opportunity to condemn an appeal by a US pastor to burn Islam’s sacred text to mark the 9/11 anniversary, something “irresponsible and immoral, an act of violence against the Islamic religion but also all religions.”
Kirkuk (AsiaNews) – Iraqi Christians have taken advantage of the feast of Eid al-Fitr to extend their best wishes to the Muslim community and condemn the statement by a US pastor who has decided to burn the Qur‘an to mark the 9/11 anniversary.

Tensions in the United States between Muslims and non-Muslims have risen following plans to build an Islamic community centre and a mosque not far from the 9/11 site in New York City, where al-Qaeda terrorists killed 2,752 people.

As the anniversary approaches, tensions are raising, coinciding with the end of Ramadan, on Friday.

Matters worsened when Rev Terry Jones, the pastor at a Church in Gainesville (Florida), announced his intention to burn a copy of the Qur‘an to mark the ninth anniversary of the attacks against the Twin Towers, saying that Islam was “a violent and oppressive religion”.

The danger however is that in predominantly Muslim countries, Christians might be targeted by Muslim extremists, as was the case in the past.

Christian, Jewish and Muslin leaders in the United States slammed the “anti-Muslim frenzy” in the country, noting that they “are scared for this lack of respect for a sacred text”.

Similarly, the plan to burn the Qur‘an could endanger US soldiers and civilians in Afghanistan and undermine the overall military effort, said General David Petraeus, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Mgr Louis Sako, Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk, released a statement to the media and the country’s mosque. In it the prelate said, “On the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, Kirkuk Christians extend their best wishes to our Muslim brothers in Kirkuk and Iraq. We pray to the Lord that such a religious occasion may strengthen coexistence, security and stability. At the same time, we denounce the appeal by Rev Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center to burn copies of the Qur‘an. We condemn this act as irresponsible and immoral, an act of violence against the Islamic religion but also all religions. The pastor’s position is his own and does not in any way, shape or form represent the position of Christians. Whilst we assure you of our solidarity in condemning this despicable act, we also believe that it is incumbent upon all of us to work together, hand in hand, to renounce fanaticism and violence, which constitute the greatest threat to religion.”

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