Monday, April 04, 2011

Burning the Koran, Pastor Terry Jones and Barack Obama: Time to Act Tough

Image Courtesy: Daily Mail, UK
Ever since Pastor Terry Jones first announced his outrageous intention to burn the Koran, in a bonfire coinciding with 9/11 anniversary, religious intolerance seems to be hitting a new low with every passing day. Tension has always been in the air, all around the world, where such incendiary action is only expected to lead to widespread demonstrations, protests and inevitable violence. And when he finally made good on his intentions and burnt the Koran after a mock trial, there were outbursts of anger and emotions in places that have anyway been sensitive spots with a fragile state of affairs, finally culminating in the slaughter of UN officials at Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan.

While such violent reactions were predicted as a direct result of burning of Quran, there can be no justification of either action. The difference between the despicable act of burning a sacred religious text and a savage reaction to the act in Afghanistan lies not in the scale of hatred involved, but only in accountability for the actions. Pastor Terry Jones is responsible for spreading hatred through incendiary remarks and deeds, while none can be held responsible for mob action of violence. What both the incidents do achieve, is to widen the gap and increase the divide between two communities. Each one could blame the other and hold the each other responsible for the violence that ensued, resulting in meaningless loss of lives and fuelling growing enmity, forming further grounds for fresh negative acts. But, where does the cycle end?

To quote an old adage, 'With great power comes great responsibility'; there can not be many doubts as to where the power in this equation lies. If the US considers it its duty to get involved in international affairs, as it did in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and if it wants to enforce global peace, the responsibility for the current unrest lies squarely with the United States of America. It is never easy to run a democracy, and there would always be conflicting elements that stoke hatred among religions and communities that form the very basis of democracy. However, such provocative actions as the one done by Terry Jones need to be condemned and controlled with utmost urgency, to send a message that would be in line with the signals that the US wants to send across the world, to the international community. With its forces still at work in the Middle East, and with the region being more fragile than ever, given the scale of social uprising that the monarchs of the regions are having to deal with, there is more than ethical and moral responsibility that should make the US take decisive measures to stop the likes of Pastor Terry Jones and his Dove World Outreach Centre. There are practical reasons for the US to take the initiative and make such people pay for, and realise the gravity of their deeds. 

President Obama has tried to bring in the much desired 'Change' and is seeking re-election in 2012. One important facet of the 'Change' has to be the way the US is perceived around the world. If someone can do it, Obama can do it. If it has to be done, now is the time!

No comments: