Opinion

Commentary: The Quran and tolerance

It seems like such a small thing: A church in Florida known for its anti-Islamic stances calls for a Sept. 11 Quran burning.

In an American context, it is offensive, but within the rights of those parishioners. Essentially, it's equivalent to burning American flags or book and music burnings — poor taste, but protected speech.

The problem is that the effort by the Dove World Outreach Center won't be judged purely in an American context. It will be judged globally, and that includes the world's billion Muslims.

While in this country it's easy to dismiss the event as an offensive publicity stunt, Gen. David Petraeus, who heads the U.S. effort in Afghanistan, warns that America's enemies will use images of such a stunt to enrage Muslims. He noted the church's actions would "put our troops at jeopardy …. That image could be used by extremists around the world."

The general is right. Both former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama have attempted to make clear to the world that the fight American troops are waging and dying for is not a clash of cultures, not pitting Christianity against Islam. Instead, the battle is focused on the violent extremists within Islam twisting the faith to justify their attacks on innocents.

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