Britain condemns Koran burning plan

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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, 2001, attacks.

Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said he "strongly opposed" any attempt to offend members of a religious group.

"Primarily this is an issue for the US, but clearly the government's view is that we would not condone the burning of any book," the spokesman said.

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

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 condemned the planned move as "disrespectful."

Blair -- who founded a Faith Foundation after leaving office to promote understanding between the world's religions -- said: "I deplore the act of burning the Koran.

"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."

Blair added: "Those who wish to cause religious conflict are small in number but often manage to dominate the headlines.

"You do not have to be a Muslim to share a sense of deep concern at such a disrespectful way to treat the Holy Book of Islam.

"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.

In a message to mark the end of the Ramadan, Williams said "the threat to desecrate scriptures is deeply deplorable and to be strongly condemned by all people."

"These are challenges that we must respond to with a consistent message: that we oppose collectively all such provocations and insist that there is no place in our traditions for violent response," he added.

© 2010 AFP

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