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German Jews condemn planned Florida Koran burning

Smoke from the remains of New York's World Trade Center covers lower Manhattan as the Statue of Liberty (L) stands guard in a photograph taken across New York Harbor from Jersey City, New Jersey September 12, 2001. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine/Files

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s leading Jewish group condemned plans by a Florida pastor to burn the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11, saying it evoked the mass killings of Jews in the Holocaust that followed Nazi book burnings.

Wednesday’s statement by Charlotte Knobloch, president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, adds to voices from U.S. religious leaders who have condemned an “anti-Muslim frenzy” in the run up to memorial services for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington by Islamist extremists.

“The idea is terrible and repulsive,” she said of plans by Terry Jones, the pastor of a 30-person church in Gainesville, Florida, to burn a copy of Islam’s holy book on Saturday.

Knobloch said the planned action by the Dove World Outreach Center reminded her of the burning of “un-German” literature organised by the Nazi party in 1933 that foreshadowed the killing of some 6 million Jews during World War Two.

“Where people burn books, in the end they burn people,” she said in a statement, referring to a quotation from 19th century German author Heinrich Heine inscribed on a plaque in central Berlin where the Nazis burned books.

German media reported on Wednesday that Jones founded a Christian congregation in the western city of Cologne in the 1980s. The group, known as the Christliche Gemeinde Koeln (CGK), confirmed this but said it had severed ties with Jones.

A spokesman for the Cologne-based group told Reuters they were appalled by Jones’ plans to burn the Muslim scriptures.

(Additional reporting by Claudia Doerries, writing by Brian Rohan, editing by Paul Taylor)

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