People of America who consider burning Qur'an and attempting to deny American Citizens their right to freedom of worship, allow me to explain to you why 9/11 was so horrible. 9/11 was an act of cold and brutal violence, a act that emerged out of a way of thinking that embraced intolerance and hatred in ignorance of the values of the religion it claimed to be championing. It was directed at innocent people who had nothing to do with the causes of their attackers anger, and were merely picked as a effective scapegoat for directing a rage that was consuming their attackers from the inside. It was conceived of through hatred, and carried out through hatred, and it left so many scars and holes in the lives of people in this country who had done nothing wrong other than to try and live their lives as best they could. It was selfish, ignorant, brutal, and cowardly.
Now, your response to this act, ten years after it has happened, is to let yourselves embrace intolerance and hatred in ignorance of the values of the religion you claim to be championing. I am not a Muslim, and while I have the deepest respect for that faith I cannot speak to greatly on its virtues. I am, however, a Christian, the faith many of you claim to uphold, as well as an America, whose values you claim to be fighting for, as well as whose citizens you are attacking with your ignorant bigotry. Christianity is built first and foremost on the principles of forgiveness, and setting aside your own needs and desires for the well being of others. Jesus was not vague on this, this is not some archaic rule located alongside a ban on wearing cotton ties, he was very very specific. Turning the other cheek is the line everyone remembers, but there are many others, including an entire sermon about how loudly broadcasting your own piety to show how you are superior to others is foolish and wrong. How many of you have read the Bible without ever understanding it is beyond me. As an American, we embrace the values of freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. We believe as a nation that everyone has a right to express themselves as they see fit, as long as exercising that right does not impinge on the rights of others. This is right in the constitution, within the first few amendments, and right now it is not the law abiding Americans who practice the Muslim faith who are in violation of this, it is you. You are causing harm by your words, poisoning the unity of this nation, and the ability of its citizens to feel comfortable within its society. You are causing deep and possibly irreparable harm in your need to find a way to express your anger, hate, or sense of superiority.
The hijackers on 9/11 did not murder so many people simply because they were Muslim, but because of complex political issues of disenfranchisement and oppression that resulted in deep hatreds without outlet, which were given rational through the twisting of religious values into something ugly and hateful. Now you are doing the same. It is true you are not killing anyone, and in that way alone you are superior to the terrorists, but do you really think 'at least we did not murder anyone' is a good platform for moral superiority? Burning a book is a childish and destructive act, like breaking another child's favorite toy because you are mad at them, but unlike a favorite toy, this book the Qur'an is of incalculable importance, and in burning it you are attacking your fellow American's spirituality. You are harming their very souls. There is nothing redeemable about what you are doing, it is a pure act of hatred meant only to satisfy your own selfish needs at the cost of an emotional and cultural healing in this country. You are not helping the victim's families by celebration, and yes, that is what you seem to be doing, the violence and hatred so similar to the one that took their loved ones from them. Perhaps some of you did lose family members, and you have my deepest sympathies for your loss, it is one I cannot imagine, but how is inflicting harm on other innocent people who have done absolutely nothing to harm you in any way honoring your loved one's memories?
I recall seeing an account by the Mayor of New York of a conversation he had with a soldier who had just returned from Iraq, where this soldier said he was fully in support of the building of the Mosque near Ground Zero. He pointed out that Americans of the Muslim faith are currently fighting for their country in every theater of war, that our soldiers are fighting to end systematic encouragement of cruelty and ignorance directed at other groups purely because they are different from the majority, and to uphold our own values of freedom of religion and speech. When you allow yourself to indulge in ignorance and hatred of others, and chose to express that ignorance and hatred through a act that is purely destructive, not constructive, you are putting a stain of shame on your religion, your country, and the service of those who have fought for your freedom. It is the height of selfishness, pettiness, and ingratitude. Destruction of literature is never something I condone, but here you are not just setting fire to a book, or an idea, but to the faith of countless Americans, and while you will never extinguish their faith, you will leave deep scars on the psyche of this nation.
I pray that you will one day see how much true harm you are causing, and step back from the brink that you currently stand on. All that lays beyond this is the sort of violence that we experienced on 9/11.