Threat to burn Koran could endanger those assisting Afghanistan, warns UN envoy

Staffan de Mistura, who heads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

8 September 2010 – The top United Nations envoy to Afghanistan today voiced his outrage over the threat by a religious group in the United States to burn copies of the Koran, warning that it could endanger the lives of those working to further peace and development in the Asian nation.

“If such an abhorrent act were to be implemented, it would only contribute to fuelling the arguments of those who are indeed against peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan,” Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, said in a statement.

“It could also put in jeopardy the efforts of so many Afghans and foreigners who are trying to assist Afghanistan to find its own way to peace and stability within the framework of its own culture, traditions and, indeed, religion,” he added.

Mr. de Mistura, who heads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), stated that the exercise of the freedom of expression should not be confused with the intention to offend the religion and beliefs of millions of people.

The Dove World Outreach Center, a small church located in Florida, has reportedly said it will go ahead with its intention to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks later this week, despite widespread condemnation of its plans.

According to media reports, the top US commander in Afghanistan has warned that the move could endanger the lives of troops serving in the country.


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