One of my all-time favourite movies is The Naked Gun. For those who can’t recall the plot, an LA businessman (played by the late Ricardo Montalban of Fantasy Island fame) is hired by terrorists determined to have Queen Elizabeth II assassinated. His solution? A special key ring with a button that, when pressed, will turn anyone into an unwilling assassin.
And in case you thought this only happens in hilariously bad comedies, now al-Qaeda is using the same strategy in its jihad against anyone who isn’t them. Al-Qaeda’s slaughter of tens of thousands of Muslims in Somalia, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan obviously hasn’t convinced Muslims to join its cause. Hence it has had to resort to
remote control non-Muslim wingnuts in the United States to help things along.
One of them is a goofy pastor from Florida named Terry Jones who wanted to gather his flock to burn copies of the Quran on the anniversary of September 11. Jones thought this crazy act would somehow send a message to crazy suicide bombers.
President Obama agreed. Except that he thought the event would be a “recruitment
bonanza for al-Qaeda” and similar groups looking for even more people crazy enough to “blow themselves up” in American, European, Middle Eastern, Asian etc cities. As if the Americans bombing Middle Eastern and Asian cities isn’t enough incentive.
Of course, Muslims who understand their faith will understand that no amount of burning Qurans will have any effect on the book’s appeal to its believers. They believe the promise contained in the Quran’s text that God will preserve and protect the Quran.
Muslims who understand their faith will know this. But here’s the bad news. There are lots of Muslims who don’t understand their faith very well at all. There are Muslims whose dictators, kings, emirs and presidents-for-life hold special key rings. At the press of a button, thousands are transformed into nutty crowds that behave like attendees at a KKK rally.
We all saw how much damage these crazies did in response to the Danish cartoons. And - in a touch of irony - the Danish cartoonist who drew the most offensive one - depicting the Prophet wearing a bomb for a turban - has also come out and condemned the Florida pastor.
In fact, it’s hard to find anyone who won’t condemn the nutty pastor. Sarah Palin has
refudiated him, as has Angela Merkel of Germany and David Cameron of Britain. One Indian politician has even asked media not to print or broadcast images of the event.
Perhaps the wisest words came from a French government spokesman who declared the event would be a grave insult to the 9/11 victims and their families.
For one victim, this especially rings true. On the morning of September 11 2001, Baraheen Ashrafi joined her husband Mohammad Chowdhury for morning prayers and recitation of the Quran. He then left for his work as a waiter at the Windows of the World restaurant, on the top floors of Tower One. Reciting the Quran was one of their last acts together.
Pastors burning Qurans and wingnuts protesting outside proposed mosques won’t reduce Baraheen’s pain. Still, those who share the same types of hatred as terrorists would hardly care for the sentiments of victims.
First published in the Crescent Times Issue 23, September 2010.
Words © 2010 Irfan Yusuf
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