National Review Online
March 25, 2011
by Paul Marshall
Iran's official Fars news agency reports that the Iranian Foreign Ministry "strongly condemned the recent insult to the Muslims' holy book in the US state of Florida, and warned that Washington attempts to spread Islamophobia in the world." Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast condemned the "abhorrent" crime as "contributing to US hegemonic plots, which seek to create a rift between divine religions."
The event in question occurred last Sunday, when preacher Wayne Sapp set fire to a copy of the Quran in Florida. Sapp is a member of the Dove World Outreach Center, headed by Pastor Terry Jones, who famously threatened to burn a Quran last September 11, and achieved short-lived fame.
NRO readers may remember that Iran recently suspended Hohabet News after it reported that the Iranian government itself had seized and burned 600 New Testaments in Salmas.
What's the Farsi word for chutzpah?
Iran's own Bible-burnings are only one part of its ongoing repression of Christians, Baha'is, Sufis, and others. Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that, in two weeks, five Iranian Christians, who were recently sentenced in Shiraz to one year's imprisonment for "crimes against the Islamic Order," will be tried for blasphemy.
However, there is also good news. Iran's actions have been so egregious that even the nefarious U.N. Human Rights Council today voted to appoint a special rapporteur "on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran." The 22-to-7 vote, with 14 abstentions, ended a nine-year hiatus in scrutinizing the country.
It is also good news that, unlike the outrage and media and political circus surrounding Terry Jones' proposed Quran burning last September, preacher Sapp's shenanigans received almost no coverage with the U.S.
Hopefully, this is a sign that we have realized that, in a free country, free people say and do many bad things, including things that others may regard as blasphemous or insulting. Our best response is to belittle or ignore them, and to tell foreign countries to do likewise.
Paul Marshall is a Senior Fellow with Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom.
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