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Pioneer Editorial: Quran event ends with no burning

The beauty of America is its freedoms which Americans enjoy. To the consternation of non-Americans are the freedoms which Americans enjoy.

The Rev. Terry Jones of Dove World Outreach Center in Florida planned to go ahead with "International Burn a Koran Day," an event at which patrons burn the Quran, the holy book of Islam which is so key in the Muslim religion, but wisely decided late Thursday to cancel the event.

The Rev. Jones said it's necessary on the ninth anniversary of 9/11 to remind the world that Muslim extremists were responsible for the terrorists events of that day that saw more than 3,000 dead in the collapse of the World Trade Centers in New York City, the crash into the Pentagon and a downed plane in Pennsylvania when passengers overtook their terrorist captors.

Under the U.S. Constitution Bill of Rights First Amendment, Rev. Jones has the right to freedom of speech and therefore the right to burn whatever book he wants, including the Bible.

But that activity was not universally understood, and therefore was in poor taste. Muslims in the Middle East would not understand the symbolism of an American burning the Quran; rather, they would see it literally -- an attack on Islam, a very devout religion that practices an eye for an eye.

Take, for example, the portrayal of Mohammad by Danish cartoonists several years ago. That activity prompted death threats on the cartoonists and riots in several locations.

Everyone from the White House and the Vatican to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Middle East theater commander Gen. David Petraeus warned Rev. Jones that it may cause violence for U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Said Gen. Petraeus: "Images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists ... to inflame public opinion and incite violence."

Because we enjoy and understand our given freedoms, the act of a Muslim burning a Bible will get a reaction, but not mass rioting or death threats. Those in nations which do not celebrate freedom as we know it, find it insulting to do damage to a mainstay of that society, namely the Quran and the religion it represents.

The Rev. Jones finally understood that, and canceled his activity. He'd do better to offer a day of prayer in memory of those who lost their lives that day, which includes both Christians and Muslims, as well as Buddhists and most other world religions in the Twin Towers. Such an event is now planned, and we hope that we can reach better understanding with the vast majority of Muslims who are not extremists and don't condone what happened on 9/11.