As a Florida church vowed to move forward with a controversial
plan to burn the Koran, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
joined other US officials in condemning it as "disrespectful and
"We sit down together for this meal on a day when the news is
carrying reports that a pastor down in Gainesville, Florida plans
to burn the holy Koran on September 11th," she told guests Tuesday
at the Department of State iftar, where she was joined by Special
Representative to Muslim Communities Farah Pandith, an Indian
"I am heartened by clear unequivocal condemnation of this
disrespectful, disgraceful act that has come from American
religious leaders of all faiths from evangelical Christians, to
Jewish rabbis as well as secular US leaders and opinion makers,"
Clinton said blasting the planned demonstration by the Florida
church on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
Earlier Tuesday Terry Jones, pastor at the Dove World Outreach
Centre in Gainesville, vowed to move forward with his burning of
the Koran despite condemnation from US officials and world leaders
who believe the act could incite violence in the Middle East.
"We feel it's maybe the right time for America to stand up," Jones
told myFOXorlando.com. "How long are we going to bow down? How
long are we going to be controlled, by the terrorists, by radical
"We feel it's time for the church to stand up," he added.
State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley called the decision
"It is un-American in the sense that it does not represent the
views of the vast majority of Americans, who are respectful of
religions-of the world's great religions," Crowley told reporters.
But Jones did receive backing from New York City Mayor Michael
Bloomberg, who while admitting the plan was "distasteful", added
that Jones' decision was protected by his First Amendment right,
the New York Post reported.
Meanwhile, the imam at the centre of a controversy over an Islamic
centre near New York's Ground Zero also vowed to go ahead with his
plans, just hours after a broad coalition of Christian, Jewish and
Islamic leaders denounced what they described as a rising tide of
anti-Muslim bigotry across the United States.
"We are proceeding with the community centre, Cordoba House," said
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf who has just returned from a State
Department-sponsored Middle East trip to promote US-Muslim
relations, in an editorial published online by the New York Times
"More important, we are doing so with the support of the downtown
community, government at all levels and leaders from across the
religious spectrum, who will be our partners. I am convinced that
it is the right thing to do for many reasons," he wrote.
Earlier Tuesday, a broad coalition of faith leaders gathered in
Washington, where they met with Attorney General Eric Holder to
discuss their concerns.
"To quote the attorney general, he called the Gainesville planned
burning of Qurans 'idiotic and dangerous,'" said Farhana Khera,
president of Muslim Advocates, soon after meeting with Holder.
"While it may not be a violation of the law-it may be an act of
free speech it certainly violates our sense of decency," she added
about the Florida event.
(Arun Kumar can
be contacted at email@example.com)