The news that Terry Jones, a Gainesville, Fla., pastor with a flock of all of 50 souls, might stage a ceremonial Koran burning during prime time on September 11 roiled the nation and much of the world. The U.S. commanding general in Afghanistan, the secretaries of defense and state, the attorney general, and the president himself each personally and publicly weighed in against Jones. Protests came from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Malaysia, as well as from Al-Azhar University, the Saudi-based Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and Muslim World League, the Egyptian and Jordanian Muslim Brotherhoods, and the famous Islamic scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. It also spawned copycat Koran desecrators, who seized on this easy route to the front pages.
Jones’s shenanigans, from which he eventually backed down, would have had little interest — the media give scant coverage to Bible burnings, even those done by the U.S. government (see below), or to Holy Communion wafer desecrations — except for the threat of violence in response.