International protests spark as church’s planned Koran burning approaches

By Sarah Ostman

Plans by a small town Florida pastor to commemorate Saturday’s anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks by burning copies of the Koran have sparked massive controversy — and with just two days until the planned event, the uproar is reaching global proportions.

The New York Times reports scattered groups of protesters are gathering and sometimes burning the American flag on the streets of Afghanistan and Pakistan, despite officials’ efforts to quell the demonstrations.

One Afghani protester, Mohammad Basher, 30, sent a clear warning in his quote to the Times: “(I)f they really try to burn Korans then it’ll give us the clear message that we should fight foreigners in our country, and do the real jihad against them.”

Meanwhile, U.S. embassies and consulates throughout the Muslim world are stepping up security and coming out to officially condemn Pastor Terry Jones’ plans.

Officials and military leaders in Muslim nations have called on U.S. officials to stop the burning, but American officials say the pastor is within his rights to free expression.

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