Britain condemns 'extreme' Koran burning plan

9th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

The British government on Thursday condemned a US clergyman's plan to burn copies of the Koran to mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks as being "provocative in the extreme".

"The burning of the Koran would be offensive not just to Muslims but to all supporters of religious freedom and tolerance worldwide," said Foreign Secretary William Hague.

"Eid is a time of celebration, charitable giving and family gathering. To seek to mar it in this calculated way would be selfish and provocative in the extreme.

"We hope that the individuals involved will reconsider and refrain from carrying out this act.

"This is of course a matter for the US authorities and we are in full agreement with the US administration's reaction."

Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman earlier said the government would never condone any attempt to offend members of a religious group.

"We would strongly oppose any attempt to offend any member of any religious or ethnic group. We are committed to religious tolerance," he said.

The British government joined voices around the world calling for pastor Terry Jones, of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida, to abandon his plan to burn copies of the Koran on Saturday.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair said he deplored the planned act.

Middle East peace envoy Blair -- who runs a faith foundation promoting understanding between the world's religions -- said: "It is disrespectful, wrong and will be widely condemned by people of all faiths and none.

"In no way does this represent the view of any sensible person in the West or any other part of the world.

"Rather than burn the Koran, I would encourage people to read it."

The leader of the world's Anglicans, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, also added his voice to the condemnation.

Williams said: "The threat to desecrate scriptures is deeply deplorable and to be strongly condemned by all people.

"We oppose collectively all such provocations and insist that there is no place in our traditions for violent response."

© 2010 AFP

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