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Religious extremism kills again

By The Mercury

We’ve seen this movie before, and much like a previous showing, this one was filled with violence fed by a combination of ignorance and manipulation by radicals.

The “movie” this time around involves Pastor Terry Jones, a Christian extremist from Florida who on Tuesday commemorated 9/11 as International Judge Muhammad Day. Events included a mock trial of the Prophet Mohammed, whom Muslims revere; indeed, many Muslims find the depiction of his image offensive to the point of sacrilege.

Predictably — and indefensibly — throngs of Muslims outraged by Pastor Jones’ actions on Tuesday attacked a U.S. consulate in Libya and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.There is no reason to doubt that those crowds’ ignorance about America, civil liberties and bigots like Pastor Jones was manipulated by Muslim extremists who took the opportunity to lash out at America.

The results included the deaths of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans. They were committed to bridging the gaps between our respective cultures in a land the United States help liberate from tyranny.

Appropriately, President Barack Obama condemned the attacks “in the strongest terms.”

Pastor Jones is an Islamophobe who leads the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla. Not surprisingly, his few dozen adherents are outnumbered by critics among mainstream Christian clergy.

If this episode sounds familiar, it is. He pronounced a previous anniversary of 9/11 as International Burn a Koran Day, and his actions and rhetoric have contributed to other acts of violence against America in the Middle East.

We say contributed to instead of caused because the radical Muslims who riled crowds into riot readiness and the crowds themselves must be accountable. Regardless of people’s religious beliefs, reasonable individuals are repelled by the words and deeds of Pastor Jones and Muslim violence against the United States because of the actions of an American on Christianity fringes.

To its credit, CAIR — the Council on American-Islamic Relations — sought to diffuse the rage. Nihad Awad, CAIR’s executive director, said, “We urge that this ignorant attempt to provoke the religious feelings of Muslims in the Arabic-speaking world be ignored and that its extremist producers not be given the cheap publicity they so desperately seek. Those who created this trashy film do not represent the people of America or the Christian faith. The only proper response … is to redouble efforts to promote mutual understanding between faiths and to marginalize extremists of all stripes.

He said further, “We condemn the attack on the American embassy, which had nothing to do with the production of this intentionally inflammatory film.”

Lamentably, such voices of moderation are rarely heard amid the chaos of a mob bent on violence.

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