Even if Pastor Jones is doing no more than fanning the flames of hatred it is still a most unfortunate action to burn a Qur’an ( Koran) when it is clear it is a highly venerated sacred book in the eyes of those who follow the Islamic faith. It sends a message to Islamic people that Jones as a representative of Christianity is an intolerant bigot and the fact that he was allowed to get away with it sends a further message suggesting that his actions may even be acceptable to other Christians. It is true that freedom of speech is valued in the US but when the actions are almost inevitable in their expected harm (cf General Petraeus’ comments which led to the previous Jones Qur’an burning being abandoned) it is hard to know where freedom of speech stops and actions contributing to unlawful killing begin. The immediate consequence should not have been a surprise in that many Islamic religious leaders had explained repeatedly over some months just how offensive such an action would be interpreted.
Remember that the US in particular is trying to win the hearts and minds of those who might otherwise be their enemies in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Every time there is a stupid action on the part of the US representatives, whether it be a trophy kill photo of US soldiers with dead civilians, or evidence of ill-treatment of prisoners, the cause for peace is seriously damaged.
It is true that had not Hamid Kazai given publicity to the action by giving a vitriolic speech in Kabul,condemning Pastor Jones and calling for his arrest, it may have even been that the news of the action might not have reached the notice of the general Afghani population. And no doubt the Taliban will have used the occasion as an excuse to turn what otherwise might have been a small scale protest into something much more significant. But that is the nature of history.
In a world where faiths are judged on the actions of the self-claimed adherents, although Pastor Jones hopefully only represents a minority of bigots, his highly publicised action on behalf of what he said was the Christian Church, was always bound to be misunderstood and the protest in response showed that this was exactly how the protestors saw the situation. In the event, the huge demonstration it caused in response was so intense it got out of hand and some UN workers were killed.
Those wishing to condemn the small proportion of Islamic fanatics who are suicide bombers as typical of Islam should reflect that it only takes a few nut cases like Jones to send an identical message about Christianity.