ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday denounced the burning of Islam’s holy book by a pastor, saying it was serious setback to efforts to promote harmony in the world.
The Christian preacher Terry Jones, who after international condemnation last year canceled a plan to burn copies of the Koran to mark the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, supervised the burning of the book in front of a crowd of about 50 people at an obscure church in Florida on Sunday, according to his website.
“I, at the outset strongly condemn, on behalf of the people of Pakistan and on my own behalf, the deliberate desecration of the Holy Koran by a fanatic in Florida,” Zardari said at the beginning of his annual address to the parliament.
“It is a serious setback to efforts at promoting harmony among civilized community through out the world,” he said urging the United Nations to address the matter for the sake of harmony and peace in the world.
The previous threat by Jones to burn the Koran triggered deadly riots in Indian Kashmir and Afghanistan and he dropped the plan after U.S. President Barack Obama said the action would have helped al Qaeda. Predominantly Muslim Pakistan, a U.S. ally, is fighting a growing insurgency by Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda and Taliban militants.
The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter also condemned the burning of a copy of Koran in Florida.
“The deliberate destruction of any holy book is an abhorrent act,” he said in a statement. “This is an isolated act done by a small group of people that is contrary to American traditions.”
Reporting by Augustine Anthony and Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Chris Allbritton and Jonathan Thatcher