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Playing with fire

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quran-burningBy Kamal Hyder

Muslims across the world are furious that an American pastor would threaten to burn copies of the Quran. If such an act was committed in a Muslim country, the man would soon find himself shredded to pieces by uncontrollable mobs.

It's a pity that even today, as people across the world consider themselves civilised modern citizens of the world, they may be becoming accomplices to an act of "terror" that could cause huge and irreparable harm, cost human lives and lead to the damage to property.

Beyond that, it would jeopardise America’s future role in the Islamic world.

Some people are asking if the pastor's act is not terrorism, than what is?  If the burning does go ahead, it would put not just American forces, but all foreign forces in a tight spot from which they will not be able to escape. It would also jeopardise the safety of US helicopter pilots now aiding flood rescue efforts in Pakistan, and likely even endanger the Pakistani military for being an ally of the United States.

Even now, concerns expressed by the US have only been about the effect on American forces and personnel in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But it's not just these two countries the Americans should be worried about, but all 1.5 billion Muslims spread across a vast swathe of the world.

Some people say that the Obama administration is behind the ploy to try and gain sympathy in the Islamic world.

Whatever the facts may be, according to Muslim belief, the Quran is a book of Allah and he has taken responsibility for its protection. They also believe that such an act can only be carried out by none other than the devil.

Islam preaches peace and harmony as do other great religions of the world. There have not been incidents - at least this well publicised - in which a Muslim has burned the Bible or the Torah in recent memory. Islam forbids Muslims to do so. And not just that - they are also instructed to safeguard other people’s places of worship; despite what actions some extremists may take.

Sadly, some people have been carrying out an unrelenting campaign to malign the Muslims. Let's not forget, not long ago, another American threatened to bomb the Kabaa in Mecca if there was another 9/11 type of attack in the US.

What will we see next, a burning or another hanging? Will we see more blood on the streets and pavements, or will we see another bloody war that may one day consume this entire region?

Those are answers we all need to think about. The future of mankind can only be secured if people learn to respect each other's religion, stop meddling in the affairs of sovereign nations, and above all to stop belittling other people's faiths.

A dear friend once told me it’s the terrorists who win in the end, because they have nothing to lose.

Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera's Pakistan correspondent, reports from across the country.


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