When Florida pastor Terry Jones announced his plans to burn the Quran on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, he sparked worldwide protests and indignation. All that this threat of burning the Quran made me realize was that the world still had much growing up to do.

Let’s start at the root of the problem — Osama Bin Laden. Bin Laden today represents someone who is pure evil, is in possession of unknown power, has been able to avoid capture for 9 years and is a Muslim. He was responsible for the hijacked planes that crashed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. He killed thousands and claimed he did it in the name of religion.

But that isn’t true. Islam doesn’t preach violence. Since the beginning of the war on terror, Islamic practices have been misunderstood. The original teachings are blurred because of the impression that these militants give and the perception of the people affected by this violence.

It isn’t the teachings of their religion that lead these men to war. It’s simply the unsoundness of their minds that make them this way. There are always extremists in every religion and in every aspect of the society. The general public doesn’t agree with these extremists, but there are some who do. And the more you tell any extremist that he is wrong, the more determined he will become to prove his relevance.

Take some poverty-ridden, uneducated civilians with religion as their only crutch, throw in a bunch of malicious, heartless men who are thirsty for power and you get a team of brainwashed militants who fight for a cause only they understand and believe in. If only we had stayed united and not discriminated against each other on the basis of religious differences at a time when the world was blaming Islam, things might have been better in the present. But now that so many years have passed, can we really still not understand the core of the problem? Are we still pointing fingers and raising guns against each other because of the Gods we believe in?

The threat to burn the Quran didn’t so much hurt me as disgust me. To think that burning a holy book could solve any problems is foolish. Even though the Quran burning didn’t take place, there were several copycat incidents. One such incident was in East Lansing, where the remains of a burnt Quran were found in front of the Islamic Center near Michigan State University. This incident sparked international outrage and resulted in an attack on a church in India. Does anyone else see a pattern here? This is just a ridiculous cycle of events in which nobody is right and nobody wins.

This religious war has been going on for a while, but it’s time we realize that religion is only a front. We are educated, smart people who understand the capabilities of the human mind and the human thirst for power. With the current situation, it’s like when the bad guy forces people who could collectively defeat him into fighting against each other instead.

Park51, the proposed mosque and Islamic Center a few blocks from ground zero, might do good in bringing the community together. It will perhaps create acceptance and respect amongst the common American toward the Muslim faith. And there is definitely no reason for it to be offending anyone.

The final thing that I have to mention is stereotyping. How many people reading this viewpoint have really known a Muslim person in their everyday life? The chances are pretty good with Michigan being one of the largest Muslim-populated states in the U.S. But for many others, the only Muslims they know are the ones they see on TV holding guns and creating war. That is simply awful. There are over 1 billion Muslims in the world. A mere fraction of them are setting the image for the rest.

The bottom line is that it’s not the religion that is to be condemned. Let this be the end of the ‘International Burn a Koran Day’ idea — which was absolutely absurd to begin with. Let us understand the reasons behind terror and resolve existing issues instead of creating new ones.

Aida Ali is an LSA sophomore

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