Freedom to incite?

Muslim nations across the world have appealed to the US government to stop plans of a US pastor to publicly burn Korans on the anniversary of September 11. The Indian government has called for a media blackout, urging media outlets not to publish images of the event. Despite widespread criticism, US officials have stated that First Amendment constitutional rights guaranteeing freedom of speech, assembly and religion, prevent them from prohibiting the event.

Pastor Terry Jones, of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida, United States, has said that he will go ahead with the event, insisting that the burning is a way to “confront terrorism”. The controversy comes at a time of heightened tensions in the US about the role of Islam, following heated debate about plans to build an Islamic centre close to Ground Zero in New York.

US military commanders have warned that the burning could spark violent retaliation against US soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Senior members of the Obama administration, including Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, and leading Christian and Jewish figures have condemned the planned event.

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