President Obama and other U.S. officials are condemning both the burning of a Quran at a Florida church, and the violence in Afghanistan protesting it.
“The desecration of any holy text, including the Quran, is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry,” Obama said in a statement issued Saturday night. “However, to attack and kill innocent people in response is outrageous, and an affront to human decency and dignity”
David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in the Afghanistan war, issued a similar statement.
The Associated Press reports that “Afghan protests against the burning of a Quran in Florida entered a third day with demonstrations in the east Sunday, while the Taliban called on people to rise up, blaming government forces for any violence … Protests in the north and south in recent days have killed 20 people.”
That includes the demonstration at a United Nations compound that turned violent, leading to 11 deaths.
“No religion tolerates the slaughter and beheading of innocent people, and there is no justification for such a dishonorable and deplorable act,” Obama said.
The Afghanistan protests include the burning of Obama in effigy.
U.S. officials are very concerned about the response to the Florida Quran burning, as U.S. troops try to regain maintain security in the war-torn nation.
Obama did not specifically reference the incident involving pastor Terry Jones, but Petraeus did in a statement issued out of Jabul.
“In view of the events of recent days, we feel it is important on behalf of ISAF and NATO members in Afghanistan to reiterate our condemnation of any disrespect to the Holy Quran and the Muslim faith,” said Petraeus in a statement with NATO ambassador Mark Sedwill.
The Petraeus statement added:
“We condemn, in particular, the action of an individual in the United States who recently burned the Holy Quran. We also offer condolences to the families of all those injured and killed in violence which occurred in the wake of the burning of the Holy Quran.
We further hope the Afghan people understand that the actions of a small number of individuals, who have been extremely disrespectful to the Holy Quran, are not representative of any of the countries of the international community who are in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people.”
CNN, by the way, has refused to air an interview with the Florida pastor who presided over the Quran last month, reports our Faith & Reason blog.
Obama’s statement in full:
Today, the American people honor those who were lost in the attack on the United Nations in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan.
Once again, we extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of those who were killed, and to the people of the nations that they came from.
The desecration of any holy text, including the Koran, is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry. However, to attack and kill innocent people in response is outrageous, and an affront to human decency and dignity.
No religion tolerates the slaughter and beheading of innocent people, and there is no justification for such a dishonorable and deplorable act.
Now is a time to draw upon the common humanity that we share, and that was so exemplified by the UN workers who lost their lives trying to help the people of Afghanistan. USA today