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US condemns burning of Quran by Florida pastor

world Updated: Mar 26, 2011 15:02 IST

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US has strongly condemned the burning of Quran by a radical pastor in Florida and said the Obama Administration is deeply concerned about all deliberate attempts to offend members of any religious minority.

"We condemn such acts as disrespectful, intolerant, and divisive. We are deeply concerned about all deliberate attempts to offend members of any religious or ethnic group," the State Department spokesman, Mark Toner told reporters at the start of a special briefing on Libya yesterday.

"Public condemnation of burning the Quran has come from a variety of organisations including the National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Anti-Defamation League," he said. "We believe firmly in freedom of religion and freedom of expression, they are universal rights, enshrined in the US Constitution and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Toner said.

"We reaffirm our position that the deliberate destruction of any holy book is an abhorrent act," he said adding that "religious freedom and religious tolerance are fundamental pillars of US society." "President Bush added a copy of the Quran to the White House library and a member of Congress took his oath of office on a Quran once owned by Thomas Jefferson – one of America’s founding fathers," Toner said.

In Florida last week, the controversial pastor, Terry Jones had overseen the burning of the holy Quran by an evangelical preacher pastor Wayne Sapp in a local church after the holy book was put on trial and was convicted of crime. Jones had said that trial of the holy Quran was held by a jury of 12 church members and volunteers, with a Dallas Imam as a defence lawyer.

"We had a court process. We tried to set it up as fair as possible, which you can imagine, of course, is very difficult," Jones had told The USA Today. Jones, however, considered the burning of Quran as a one-time event and said that he had no plans to do it on a mass scale. The Muslim community in US has declined to respond to such an act by Jones and his small group of followers.