Military commander Gen. David Petraeus and the top NATO civilian representative in Afghanistan, Mark Sedwill, said they “hope the Afghan people understand that the actions of a small number of individuals, who have been extremely disrespectful to the holy Quran, are not representative of any of the countries of the international community who are in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people.”
On Sunday, Petraeus joined the condemnation being voiced by many other political and religious leaders, urging Afghans to understand only a small number of people had been disrespectful to the Koran and Islam.
“We condemn, in particular, the action of an individual in the United States who recently burned the Holy Koran,” Petraeus said in a statement, which was also signed by NATO’s senior civilian representative, ambassador Mark Sedwill.
“We also offer condolences to the families of all those injured and killed in violence which occurred in the wake of the burning of the Holy Koran,” he said.
To be sure, Petraeus is in a tough spot. It is understandable if he has thought it imprudent to mount a full-throated defense of the freedom of speech while American troops have to face this madness in Afghanistan. But wouldn’t it be possible for him to appeal for calm and sanity without kowtowing so abjectly to Islamic supremacist sensibilities? By condemning the burning of the “Holy Koran” without a single mitigating word of any kind, and offering “condolences to the families of all those injured and killed in violence which occurred in the wake of the burning of the Holy Koran” without denouncing the irrationality and insanity of these murders, he is effectively endorsing the Islamic war against the freedom of speech. If burning the Qur’an is so deplorable, after all, why should it be legal?
And when they find their own freedom of expression suddenly severely restricted, those in the West who today are condemning Terry Jones so self-righteously will rue the day they didn’t stand up for Jones’s right to say and do even what they found objectionable.