An obscure U.S. Christian church says it plans to go ahead with burning copies of the Koran this weekend, despite condemnation in the United States and elsewhere and warnings the act could endanger U.S. military troops serving abroad.
The Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center, which reportedly has about 50 members, has vowed to mark the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States by burning copies of Islam's holy book.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the planned Koran burning was "disrespectful" and "disgraceful."
“I am heartened by the clear, unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful, disgraceful act that has come from American religious leaders of all faiths, from Evangelical Christians to Jewish rabbis, as well as secular U.S. leaders and opinion-makers," Clinton said.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley called it "provocative."
"We think that these are provocative acts. They are disrespectful. They're intolerant. They're divisive," Crowley said. "And we're conscious that a number of voices have come out and rejected what this pastor and this community have proposed."
Leading American Christian and Jewish leaders have called it an attack on religious freedom and an act of religious intolerance.
The Vatican today said it would be "an outrageous and grave gesture."
Pastor Terry Jones, the leader of the church, based in Gainesville, Florida, says the planned Koran burning was a response to Islamist radicalism.
The church's plans have already sparked protests in Afghanistan and Indonesia.
City officials in Gainesville say they have repeatedly appealed to the church to cancel the burning.
Officials say the church would be in violation of city ordinances if the burning is held.
compiled from agency reports