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Is FL pastor alone to blame for Afghan deaths following Koran burning?

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A compelling case can be made that Florida pastor Terry Jones is at least a little unhinged. Strong evidence can be adduced from Jones’s public immolation of a copy of the Koran on March 20—an act meant to demonstrate his contempt for Islam, which he believes is an evil religion.

But if the hordes of Afghan Muslims who have gathered to protest Jones’ words and deeds are out to prove him wrong, they have an interesting way of showing it. At least eleven people have been killed and 81 more injured since protests began three days ago.

This morning, the violence extended to Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second largest city, where demonstrators marched through the streets waving sticks and firing rifles. Some of them showed themselves to be as adept with a matchbook as Jones, setting fire to cars and shops.

Some in the media have argued that Jones has blood on his hands, and it’s hard to disagree. He was warned last September 11, when he first threatened to burn a copy of the Koran and called for an “International Burn a Koran Day,” that repercussions in the Arab world were sure to ensue.

But now that they have, it’s hard to justify the violence as a rational response to an irrational act or to place all of the blame at Jones’s feet.

Even harder to explain is the view expressed by one protester, Havi Atta Muhammad, who is quoted in the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, as having said:

We are standing with the Taliban shoulder-to-shoulder because the infidels are against Islam. They're not here for help or any sort of development.

In other words, coalition forces are now targets. And the Taliban—the terrorist group that since its inception in 1992 has massacred thousands of Afghan civilians and tortured countless others for assorted religious derelictions—are the good guys. Wow, there’s a head scratcher.

CBS News, one of the media outlets that puts sole responsibility for the murder and mayhem on Jones’s shoulders, attempts to make its case by linking to an article at their own website from 2010 that presumably shows Jones to be an equal-opportunity hater. The article features part of a deposition from a court case in which Jones was a witness. After acknowledging that he considers Islam to be a religion "of the devil," attorney Michael Spellman asks Jones what else he believes was “of the devil.” The transcript follows:

Attorney: And you believe that everything that is not from god is of the devil. Is that right?

Jones: Yeah, I guess so. Uh-huh. Then again, it depends on what you're talking about. I don't believe necessarily baseball is from the devil because it's not from god. But I mean, basically in general, I believe that if it's not from god, it's from the devil. Right.

Attorney: Is Hinduism of the devil?

Jones: Yes, of course.

Attorney: Buddhism?

Jones: Yeah.

Attorney: How about Judaism?

Jones: Yes.

The testimony may lend credence to the view that Jones may be nuts. But it hardly explains away the violent reaction in Afghanistan, though the argument might hold water if similar demonstrations by Hindus, Buddhists, and Jews erupt in the days to come.

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