France Muslim rector urges calm over Koran 'provocation'
A senior Islamic leader in France on Thursday urged Muslims to resist being provoked by a US church's plan to burn Korans on September 11, amid fears that the act would spark rage in the Muslim world.
"I call on my fellow faithful not to succumb to provocation, and to respond wisely by expressing their compassion" in reaction to the plan, the rector of Paris's Grand Mosque, Dalil Boubakeur, said on RMC radio.
The Dove World Outreach Center, a small evangelical church in Gainsville, Florida, has defied condemnation by religious and political figures and vowed to burn 200 Korans on Saturday, the anniversary of the deadly 2001 attacks.
Boubakeur pointed out that the date also coincided this year with the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. He branded the Koran-burning "provocative" and "medieval."
The church's pastor, Terry Jones, said the event aimed to send a message to radical Islamists such as those behind the attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, which killed nearly 3,000 people.
"It is a date that causes pain and sadness for all of humanity," said Boubakeur. "Why stigmatise Muslims? The attackers were terrorists, despicable people who have nothing to do with representing Muslim opinion."
© 2010 AFP