Thursday, May 19, 2005

Why the Koran is Different than the Bible.

Turkish 16th Century Koran, originally uploaded by OC Chronicle.

Some of the most respected commentators from the center-right of the spectrum have been commenting on the Newsweek/Koran flushing story from a very interesting angle. Ann Coulter eviscerates the rioting Afghans with these cutting points:

Come to think of it, I'm not sure it's entirely fair to hold Newsweek responsible for inciting violence among people who view ancient Buddhist statues as outrageous provocation — though I was really looking forward to finally agreeing with Islamic loonies about something. (Bumper sticker idea for liberals: News magazines don't kill people, Muslims do.)

Meanwhile, the always brilliant Jeff Jacoby goes even further:

No one recalled, for example, that American Catholics lashed out in violent rampages in 1989, after photographer Andres Serrano's ''Piss Christ" -- a photograph of a crucifix submerged in urine -- was included in an exhibition subsidized by the National Endowment for the Arts. Or that they rioted in 1992 when singer Sinead O'Connor, appearing on ''Saturday Night Live," ripped up a photograph of Pope John Paul II.

There was no reminder that Jewish communities erupted in lethal violence in 2000, after Arabs demolished Joseph's Tomb, torching the ancient shrine and murdering a young rabbi who tried to save a Torah. And nobody noted that Buddhists went on a killing spree in 2001 in response to the destruction of two priceless, 1,500-year-old statues of Buddha by the Taliban government in Afghanistan.

It is impossible to argue that Muslims are justified in their violence in response to a story about the Koran being flushed, but I think it is important to recognize that analogies to destruction of Jewish, Christian or Buddhist symbols are not exactly correct. Muslims believe that the Koran is a holy unto itself. They believe that it is the actual work of God, not divinely inspired, but actually written in Heaven and delivered to man by God. This is an important distinction and one that Christians should be able to appreciate.

For my fellow Catholics to closer understand the emotion behind the reaction to the Koran being flushed, imagine this: An adversary is trying to get an emotional reaction from you and takes a bible and flushes it down the toilet. Your feelings? I would suspect you may feel angered because of the attitude this action represents but the trashing of the bible is not equivalent to the destruction of a holy, sacred item that is a part of Heaven itself and cannot truly be restored in this world.

However, imagine that the same person takes consecrated communion host, the Blessed Sacrament, the actual body of Christ and flushes it down a toilet. Your feeling is quite different, is it not? I believe this is a more proper analogy. I don't think it would inspire bloody riots, but I think there would be greater outrage than we have seen over the silly and offensive "art" exhibits that are merely insulting to our faith.

None of this should take away from the truth of Jeff Jacoby's thesis:

Yes, Islam is disrespected. That will only change when throngs of passionate Muslims show up for rallies against terrorism, and when rabble-rousers trying to gin up a riot over a defiled Koran can't get the time of day.

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