Was Muslims’ Violent Reaction to Burning the Quran Preventable?

Last Friday, at least seven United Nations workers were killed (including two who were beheaded) and several more were injured after officials said a protest in Afghanistan against a Florida pastor’s burning of the Quran turned violent.

On Saturday, the deadly attacks extended to Kandahar. Nine have been killed and several were also injured.

The violent reactions of the Muslims on the streets, which have resulted in the killing of many innocents, are a result of the perception that Islam has been insulted. This has occurred on several other occasions such as the publishing of cartoons of prophet Mohamed by a Danish newspaper, the comments of one of the participants in a beauty queen competition about prophet Mohamed in Nigeria November 21, 2002, and rumors that US military persons have insulted the Quran.

Preventing Islamist violent reaction in the future cannot simply occur by preventing people from insulting Islam. This approach can be un-Constitutional and is practically impossible.

The barbaric reaction to the Quran burning demonstrates the existence of several factors that may have contributed to such unjustifiable and unacceptable atrocities.

These factors include:

  1. Tolerating – in several parts of the Muslim world the use of violence, when it empowers religious values, gives justification and prepares some Muslims psychologically to use violence or resort to its use to express their religious views and opinions.
  2. Undervaluing the life of Non-Muslims- traditional mainstream Sharia Law books teach that the monetary compensation for killing a Non-Muslim is half of that of a Muslim. This is an important root cause for disrespecting human life and justifying attacking and killing Non-Muslims.
  3. Failure to use Islamic Education to empower certain Quranic values that can prevent such violent reaction. These include “Not punishing someone for the mistakes of others” (Quran 35:18) and “respecting human life” (Quran 5:32).
  4. Individual Thinking- There is a failure of the educational systems and Media to encourage individual thinking instead of the mob or “Umma” mentality. The latter way of thinking suppresses individual thinking in favor of the thinking of the group around him. This makes that person more vulnerable to participate in such violent acts.
  5. Failure of legal systems to make the Mullahs who incite hatred and violence responsible for the outcome of their teaching. The violent response against the UN personnel occurred after Friday prayer. It is vital to know what has been said exactly in the ceremony that could have led to such brutal demonstrations.
  6. Failure of the Islamic scholars to denounce the terrorists (NOT terrorism) in strong words that are powerful enough to deter Muslims from participating in acts of violence. Using expressions to describe these acts as being “Un-Islamic”, or “No religion will justify such acts” are too weak to deter Muslims who are driven by religious zeal to participate in such violent acts.

Prevention of similar barbaric responses in the future MUST be holistic and multidimensional.

Suggested steps to prevent similar violent reaction in the future include:

  1. Islamic Religious scholars MUST issue a Fatwa, calling those Muslims who contributed to the violent attacks that result in killing “Apostates,” if they do not repent. Unfortunately, such expressions are needed to decrease participation of Muslims in such violent acts in the future.
  2. Islamic teaching MUST give more emphasis on the Quranic values that can prevent generalization and show respect for Human life. For example; the Quran clearly states that it is unacceptable to punish a person for the actions of another one (Quran 35:18) and that “killing an innocent human soul is equal to killing all humanity” (Quran 5:32). The above values–if taught properly–could have prevented the attack on and the killing of the innocent UN personnel who have no relation, at all, to the act of burning the Quran.
  3. Encouraging individual thinking instead of Mob or ‘Umma‘ mentality in the Muslim world can be achieved via proper educational tactics. These tactics must modify the thinking process of individuals and can be assisted by certain Quranic verses that establish the meaning that each individual will be judged based upon his personal deeds and actions (Quran 19:95: “And everyone will come to the Lord singly on the day of judgment”).
  4. Negative reinforcement psychological tactics MUST be used to decrease the possibility of similar barbaric attacks in the future. These tactics include clarifying to radical Muslims that such an attack on the UN is likely to create more hatred to Islam and thus can cause more Qurans to be burned–rather than the other way around. The Muslim scholars need to explain this to the Muslim world and put the sin of burning Qurans–that may happen in the future–on the shoulders of Muslims who conduct these violent acts.

Feeling the individual responsibility for burning more Qurans as a result of the violent acts is an important deterrent factor that can prevent religiously motivated Muslims from participating in similar violent atrocities. The Quranic verse (Quran 6:108: “Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance”) can be used as a model to teach Muslims that merely insulting others–let alone killing them–is a major sin, as these acts can bring more insults to the religion.

Finally, winning the war against Radical Islam cannot only occur at the military front. Furthermore, it is practically impossible to stop criticism of Islam. The prevention of future–and probably more devastating–atrocities by violent Muslims requires the proper use of ideological, educational and psychological tactics.


  1. Deplorable actions
    What the pastor did, here in the U.S. is deplorable and despicable. Respecting the beliefs of others can go a long way toward mutual respect, I believe anyway. I have been wondering how it is that the pastor here thinks he is above acting responsibly. I don’t get it. I was very sorry to learn of his actions, very sorry.

  2. Another positive step in eliminating this kind of barbarity is for Americans to ostracize people like Terry Jones, who knowingly incite distant violence.

  3. Burning
    There is no curing a beast out of control. Let it be finished. Let researched truth about Islam come out – and all religions.
    They are all ‘brainwashing’ methods.

  4. Jones was right
    He did it to prove the barbarity of Islam – or Submission to Allah and Mohammed [both are the same of course].

    Jones should be not punished but awarded a medal.

    Again we see the uncivilised fascism of Islam on full display.

    Someone in Florida burns Mein Koran and 350 people need to die in Afcrapistan and Clean-istan.

    How logical.

    We should hold a North American wide Burn the Koran day.

    Maybe Muslims need to grow up and like the article states, reform their violent fascism.

    Maybe that is more intelligent than blaming Jones.

    1. ın fact you need to grow up instead of Muslims. You should learn to respect the beliefs of others. All religions are the reflections of God’s different parts. It is an insulting action. I m a Muslim and ı belive that we didn’t deserve it. what about the religious freedom in U.S.A? you have to read something before talking. what would you do when somebody burns the book that you represent your religion?

      1. I respect the beliefs of others. Islam doesn’t appear to respect mine in the way that I will always be an apostate. Any belief system that would encourage violence upon me or my family is a threat. I agree totally with the article. Most of the people in these countries are uneducated, and the ones which are hold key positions of power and control using a religion to incite violence. While there are radicals in all religions most in the West are accountable for their actions, and government is not mixed with religion like sharia. One thing the article fails to mention is that ‘moderate’ voices within Islam are also responsible if they don’t question and admonish such acts of violence. It seems that when Islam is questioned terms like ‘Islamophobia’ and even ‘intolerance’ are used.

  5. Bullets,Bombs,Manna,Money and Books.

    News reports have given me the impression that the Muslims in Afghanistan who killed the UN workers reacted far more ferociously to Terry Jones’ Koran burning than they’ve ever reacted in response to an American soldier that has accidentally or intentionally killed an Afghan villager. Why would the Muslims react more ferociously to the burning of a book than the killing of one of their own family members?

    I may be correct to say that news reports have mentioned that the USA has paid large amounts of money to Muslim families as a form of remorseful compensation when an American soldier wrongfully kills an Afghan villager.

    Is it the financial compensation that’s paid to these Muslim families/individuals that (quells) their reaction to the killing of their family members? If it is, why not compensate with money their most angry reactionaries whenever a Westerner burns a Koran? Immediate financial compensation after the burning of a Koran might stop the Afghans from killing UN workers and Americans currently in Afghanistan.

    Professor Tawfik Hamid suggests that “Negative reinforcement psychological tactics MUST be used to decrease the possibility of similar barbaric attacks in the future.”

    I don’t want to sound sarcastic, but what I’m about to say is just a reacton directed toward America’s military efforts in Afghanistan as well as the Afghans who killed the UN workers. As a “negative reinforcement psychological tactic,” how about trying this: Pick out a village and offer $10,000.00 to every Muslim villager who turns in his Koran for a public burning. The American soldier would hand the $10,000.00 in one dollar bills to the villager in the presence of the (other) villagers (as) the book burns. Could this cause all the other villagers to run home to get their Korans to have them happily burned for $10,000.00 each??? {Oh! Just to be fair!!! Burn some Bibles too!!!} Doing this could turn out to be a successful “negative reinforcement psychological tactic” because…..if successful, the addiction to all that’s contained within the Koran and the Bible would disappear. It would probably be cheaper than the cost of the military operation. And the Afghan people would all become fairly well-to-do.

    You see! Like the Bible was to Westerners, the Koran is the Muslims’ means of protection, success, survival and reward on earth and then in the after life. But realistically, food – and the money that buys food – is every person’s primary and most essential reward. Ask any infant; ask any professional football player; like the ad says, “Ya gotta eat.” Believers believe that the Bible and the Koran will provide a reward just in case food isn’t found. Destroying that belief will make some people extremely angry.

    It’s my opinion that the American military shouldn’t be in Afghanistan. An airplane dropping dollar bills from the sky all over the Afghan villages would, to the villagers, be better than manna. Compared to the cost of the military, manna (money) would be so much better, and so much cheaper, than bullets and bombs.

  6. Where sharia rules
    Terry Jones, the Danish cartoons, etc, merely show us, we in the west, what we are really dealing with. One way or the other, Islam has been at war with the non-Islamic world for almost 14 centuries. But there are those who refuse to see it.

    Rioters are not the law, but they are following the tenets of their faith.

    In countries as Iran and Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the heads of state, of villages, the leaders are as the rioters in Afghanistan and other places, where sharia rules – – Amputations, beheadings, flogging even unto death, are carried out by the state, a local chief, village heads, others following the words of a local imam. Sharia law in practice.

  7. burning
    The both side match each other. Both side are fanatic idiots. That pastor went for popularity and money. Riot about burning book. They got to be a little “off set” in head. It is only a book. Good chance, that those books were printed by jews.

  8. What would I do if someone burned a bible. NOTHING. That one is on the persons head that did it. There are Christians, some by name only and that is sad. I respect every ones right to chose what he or she believes. I do not believe in killing a person because they do not believe the way I do. God will be the judge of that in the end.

    I do not believe in the violence of the Muslims and the way women are treated. I do not believe in people being stoned to death, I do not believe in having sex with animals, I do not believe in what the Muslim women has to go through to get ready for her husband to have sex with her, just for his satisfaction. They are not a religion of peace. Just look at the middle east. Very easy to see.

    They come to America and want to change the way we live, our laws, our religion, our way of life. They want to take over the world and theirs will be the only religion and the only way of life.

    Most people respect each other and no one person thinks the same.There can be differences in the way the scriptures are interpreted, but we will not kill you or stone you or raise you taxes sky high if you don’t believe the way we do.

    Just wish they could come and live and not force us to convert. Stick with their own and live in peace. But it is not a religion of love and peace just violence.

    Makes me very sad. I fear not for me but for my grandchildren. Breaks my heart that they will not live the life I have known in this great country where the leaders at this time are leading us into the pit of hell and Islam.

  9. Good and Evil in Islam.
    Islam is the only religion which has both extremes of Good and Evil in it, because it had two Authors!

    Yes the Good portions were written by a high Persian Priest named Salmon Parsi, a very educated man, who wanted to remove the Cast and heavy taxation from Persian Empire. These cast system and heavy Taxation were placed by Persian priests in the first place and he was opposed to that. So all the good versus of Koran goes to him. Actually that was the reason Koran was thought to have been sent by God, since it was well Written and Muhammad could not have done that (He was Illiterate). Praying 5 times a day, was a Persian practice! Good of Forgiveness and all good, was a Persian Doctrine. Helping needy people and salvation was Persian.

    In Other hand Muhammad later added his version through Haidth (He would think of stuff while sleeping and then would tell people God talked to his ears and those are words of Allah.

    Most of the Hadith, are the portions that are violent, sex related, pagan related, Killing non-Muslims, cheating, slavery, …etc, mainly dealing with Muhammad Pocket, belly and underbelly..

    If you live among Muslims, you can see the duality in Koran has made them do very bad things, then they pay some money to “Allah” and then it is “Halal” or forgiven by Allah and good to go.

    Once you become Muslim, they cut off the head of your genitals (Circumcision) , once you try to leave Islam, they cut off your head!!

    So in Total, Islam is a messed up religion. People get attracted by the good side, but then the evil side shows its face! Which is basically the worst belief anyone can have, so I left it.

  10. Let America Speek
    Why should it be legal to burn a Bible, American flag or cross but not legal to burn a Koran. The first ammendment clearly supports the Pastors act. Was it a smart one? No, but he still has the right to do so and though I disagree with his action I would die, so he has that right.

    “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

    I also wonder why a people that commit so many criminal acts should be treated with the utmost respect, while the United States military burns a crate full of Bibles? Why is there no uproar when Muslims burn the American flag?

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