Plans by a small evangelical church in Gainesville, Florida, to publicly burn copies of the Koran represent “an outrageous and grave gesture”, the Vatican’s interreligious council has said.
The minister at the Florida church said that despite worldwide condemnation of the plan, he would host an “International Burn-a-Koran Day” on September 11, the ninth anniversary of terrorist attacks on the United States at the hands of Islamic extremists.
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue said in a written statement that “it received with great concern the news of the proposed ‘Koran Burning Day’.”
It said the “deplorable acts of violence” demonstrated on 9/11 “cannot be counteracted by an outrageous and grave gesture against a book considered sacred by a religious community”.
The statement said that every religion had the right to have its books, places of worship and symbols be respected and protected. Respect should be shown to religious believers and their freedom to believe, it added.
In fact, all religious leaders and believers are called to condemn all forms of violence, especially when committed in the name of religion, it said. Violence in the name of religion is a “perversion” of the teachings of the major religions and using violence to respond to an offence can never be justified, the council said.
The anniversary of 9/11 should be a moment “to offer our deep sentiments of solidarity with those who were struck by these horrendous terrorists attacks”, it said.