Following the ins and outs of this largely media-inflated Qur’an-burning story has been no easy task. I was on the verge of writing about it several times, but then the story would take another unexpected left turn. The good news, however, is that regardless of the on-again, off-again status of the burning, it seems several groups are preparing to oppose the idea of such intolerance with a reading of the Qur’an.
The first notice I saw of this bold and much needed act of compassion came from the American Library Association, which will take to the steps of its headquarters in Chicago on Saturday afternoon for a public reading of the Muslim holy book. The ALA has also announced that it is moving the Qur’an to the top of the Banned Books Week agenda, which coincidentally begins two weeks from Saturday.
“The librarians of America will not stand by and let ignorance rule,” says ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels. “For every would-be book burner, there are thousands of readers who will speak out for the freedom to peaceably assemble and read whatever they choose.”
Meanwhile, some fifteen religious leaders in Gainsville, Florida (where the burning is to take place) have agreed to read verses from the Qur’an during Sunday services. And in San Francisco, Rabbi Michael Learner has pledged to read from the Qur’an at a Rosh Hashanah service.
Hopefully these acts of compassion, tolerance and solidarity will carry us through whatever malevolent anti-Muslim events takes place this weekend.