I do subscribe to and advocate fundamental liberties and personal freedoms. But my religion teaches me that I am free for the purpose of doing right. What is considered right may some times differ from one culture, religion or even individual to another. We live in a plural society. Like me, other people have the fundamental right to have their own views, beliefs, practices. No matter what, how and why I think about such differences, the principle still holds that personal liberties, especially a person’s conscience, must not be violated by others. Simply because I may not subscribe on every score or in every respect with another person’s view or theology or custom does not give me the right to do something which can and will be considered by them as an act of desecration (“diversion from a sacred to a profane use or purpose”) of what they hold sacred.
Any derogatory act against any book considered sacred by any religious community is repulsive, reprehensible, unconscionable and utterly contemptible and must be summarily condemned by all people of faith, goodwill and good manners.
The current example of such action involving the Quran by of all people the US military in Afghanistan won’t be assuaged by mere verbal apology even from the president and commander-in-chief of the army involved. I stand to be corrected but days after the shocking act I have still to see any description or explanation as to how it happened other than that “the incident earlier this week was a genuine mistake”. But the damage on the ground is ongoing and scores of people have been killed from the resulting protests who otherwise would still be with their respective families laughing, eating, talking, breathing …
If we ourselves are not directly affected, perhaps we will be tempted to think that such reactions may be too extreme and might have been disproportionate to the crime itself. But if I am not emotionally involved, then it is not for me to surmise or prescribe this or any particular line of action. The fact that the burning of their Sacred Book has stirred some adherents of the religion involved to such responses must teach us all the lesson that we don’t mess with other people’s religion.
Some things should not and must not happen in the first place and it does not matter where, when, why or by whomsoever. The only safeguard that human beings can resort to that these things don’t occur to provoke the kind of reactions they are capable of causing is that we must have genuine respect for one another’s creed and what we respectively hold to be sacred.
No individual or authority should have the right to burn other people’s sacred books. Full stop.