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US Quran burning: Religious leaders appeal for peace

September 01, 2010 16:14 IST

Religious leaders cutting across faith lines have joined hands to condemn the threat by Terry Jones, an American Pastor, to burn the Holy Quran on September 11, the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attack in the United States.

Addressing the media in Mumbai, the religious leaders appealed for peace and harmony.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai, initiated the move to bring the religious leaders on the same platform. He dismissed the proposed threat as an act by a fringe group which is merely seeking publicity.

"The Dove World Outreach Centre of Gainesville is a fringe group with just 200 odd followers. The act of burning a holy book goes against the teaching of Christ and the practice of Christianity," said Cardinal Gracias.

Mustaqeem Ahsan Azmi, president of the Maharashtra Jamiat Ulma, said that such foolish acts may turn into threats to humanity if people do not unite against them. Maulana Syed Atherali, the executive member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said that the threat to burn the Holy Quran was intended to create hatred between Christians and Muslims across the world.

"Our protests should reach the United States," said Maulana Syed Atherali.

Maulana Zahir Abbas Rizvi, member of the All India Shia Peronnel Law Board, said that the Quran recognised Jesus Christ as a prophet and his Mother Mary as 'the pure and unblemished one'.

Former top cop Julio Ribeiro, who was part of the discussion, said, "There are all types of mad people belonging to all religions. We should ignore them. Certainly, mainstream Christianity is not involved in hate propaganda as Christianity does not teach hate."

He added that the Mohalla Committee movement, which is being closely coordinated with the Mumbai police, is already conducting meetings to undermine possible repercussions in case Pastor Jones does carry out his threat.

"Lets us all ignore them and tell them to go to hell," said Ribeiro.

Mohalla committees or neighbourhood committees are forums comprising representatives from several religious faiths living in an area. The meetings, conducted in the presence of local policemen, facilitate understanding between various communities and provide an opportunity to iron out any misunderstandings between them.

National Minorities Commission Chairman Naseem Siddiqui said, "It is our responsibility to maintain communal harmony."

Abraham Mathai, vice chairman of the National Minorities Commission, informed that that Section 153 (A) of the Indian Penal Code could be invoked to prevent a similar act in India.

Recalling an incident during his tenure as police commissioner of Bengaluru, H T Sangliana, vice chairman of the minorities commission said that some miscreants had thrown the carcass of a pig into a mosque's precincts.

"Muslims brothers kept quiet about the incident, knowing that the act was meant to precipitate violence," said Sangliana. 

Cardinal Gracias said that he would be sending a joint statement on behalf of inter-faith religious leaders to the US government and also to his counterpart in the US to prevail over Pastor Jones from committing the heinous act.

N Ganesh in Mumbai