An accessory is a person who assists in the commission of a crime, but who does not actually participate in the commission of the crime as a joint principal.
It’s a term that most of us don’t think about very much, but we were all witnesses this week to a series of murders overseas that were caused by an obscure preacher in Florida.
Terry Jones, the evangelical pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center (in Gainesville, Florida) had originally planned to burn 200 copies of the Koran on the 9th anniversary of September 11th, but later decided to cancel his demonstration. However, on March 20 of 2011, he burned a single copy of the Koran at his church, with only 30 members in attendance.
News of the desecration didn’t spread for a few days, but on April 1,
the story finally reached Afghanistan. Almost immediately, a mob overran the headquarters of the United Nations in Mazar-I-Sharif, killing 12 people, 7 of whom were international staff members. The next day, 9 more people were killed, and 81 wounded, as the protests continued.
Last Saturday, President Obama described the killings as “outrageous, and an affront to human decency and dignity”. He also said that the desecration of any holy text, including the Koran, is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry.
Since it’s not illegal to burn either the Koran or the Bible, Jones technically did not commit a crime. However, since he knew, or should have known, that his actions would have consequences in the parts of the world where the majority of the population considers the Koran to be a sacred text, it is my opinion that either the state of Florida, or an international commission, should charge him as an accessory to murder, and lock him up for a long, long time.
Inciting a riot is a federal crime that is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine. Strictly speaking, Jones didn’t DIRECTLY incite
the riots overseas, but he was most certainly the indirect cause.
I have two copies of the Koran on my bookshelf, and I wrote a 4500 word “book report” (which I titled "what Vietnam can teach us about the Koran") on the book shortly after I received my first copy. I strongly suspect that Pastor Jones hasn’t even cracked the cover. If he had, he would realize that the Koran is NOT an evil book., The INTREPRATIONS of the Koran (through Sharia law) lead to some nasty consequences, just as fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible lead to conclusions that are far removed from the message that Jesus tried to convey to us 2000 years ago.
Why should any of us care what a crazy preacher does in a small town in Florida, or that a few people get killed on the other side of the world?
The best answer that I can give you are the words uttered by Franklin Roosevelt shortly after the end of WWII:
I have visited both the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angles and the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Illinois.
One message that was abundantly clear after my tours was that the murder of 6,000,000 Jews occurred due to the fact that the leaders of the free world, and the sitting pope (Pius XII), did nothing to stop it.
Somewhat belatedly, the United Nations issued The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The declaration hasn’t stopped atrocities in other countries, the most recent of which are the murder of civilians in Libya or the persecution of Baha’is in Iran, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Although Islam is the single most popular religion in the world, only 1% of the American population are considered to be followers. In spite of that small total, Muslims were the victims of 14% of the religious discrimination cases last year in federal court.
The attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 was a horrific event, but it pales in comparison to the carnage that the world’s Christians inflicted on the most advanced society in the world over a 200 year period known as “the Crusades”, which I covered in more detail in my post of June 23, 2009
The Office of the Attoney General of Florida, headed by Pam Bondi, does not institute criminal cases in the state. However, her office DOES get involved when criminal cases are are appealed in state and federal courts.
It is my fervent hope that a local prosecutor finally finds a way to bring charges against Pastor Jones. In the event that the case eventually may get to the Attorney General’s office, I am sending a copy of this article to Pam Bondi.
Since its introduction two years ago, this website has been viewed by roughly 12,000 people in some 60 or so countries, including Afghanistan. Through the magic of the internet, there’s a possibility that folks throughout the world will realize that very few of us Americans agree with Pastor Terry Jones.
As-salam wal Hub