People who are religiously devout believe in two types of sin: sins of commission (willfully and knowingly participating in a forbidden act) and sins of omission (failing to do something that can and should be done).
And now there’s a third type, invented earlier this month by Muslims in Afghanistan during their three days of rioiting to protest an obscure Florida pastor's burning of the Koran. This type of sin, which doesn’t have a formal name, might be called shooting your religion in the foot by going way overboard in your defense of it.
The reference here is not to the protesters’ brutal and senseless murder of twelve innocent U.N. workers who had no relation to Pastor Terry Jones or his actions. In fact, those crimes are blessed by the Koran, which instructs the faithful to “kill the infidels wherever you catch them.”
Rather, the sin committed by the demonstrators was the torching of tens of dozens of copies of the very holy book whose desecration by fire they were protesting. It seems that every shopkeeper throughout the Muslim world keeps a copy of the Koran on the premises—akin, one supposes, to the bible found in every hotel room across America. When the rioters set fire to the shops, they inadvertently barbecued the same number of copies of the Koran.
On Wednesday, the top spiritual leaders in Kandahar province powwowed to address the rich irony. The Christian Science Monitor quotes Maulavi Mohammed Omar, a prominent mullah, as having said:
One person burned the holy Koran in America. This was not good, so we came to speak out and protest, but unfortunately the police fired on us because they did not know what the protest was about. Why did people burn the shops and markets, and the holy Koran? That is not good.
I don't know if a particular adage is in the Koran, but if not it should be: turnaround is fair play.
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