Islamabad: The U.S. Embassy has condemned plans by a Florida church to burn hundreds of copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11.
“We condemn acts that are disrespectful, intolerant and divisive,” said Charge d’Affaires Stephen C. Engelken. “We are deeply concerned about all deliberate attempts to offend members of any religious or ethnic group.”
“We believe firmly in freedom of religion and freedom of expression; they are universal rights, enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We reaffirm our position that the deliberate destruction of any holy book is an abhorrent act, said Engelken.”
Officials in Gainesville, Florida, where the church is located, denied the church’s permit for the burning under the local fire ordinance and have said they will take further steps if the Church goes forward with its plans.
Public condemnation of this event has come from a variety of organizations including the National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Anti-Defamation League.
As she hosted an Iftar meal at the State Department in Washington Tuesday evening, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed the condemnation of the planned act, saying “I am heartened by the 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 U.S. leaders and opinion-makers. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. Many of you know that in 1790, George Washington wrote to a synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, that this country will give ‘to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.’”