• Germany's news in English

Pastor's former church in Cologne denounces Koran-burning plan

Published: 08 Sep 2010 16:17 GMT+02:00

"We want to distance ourselves fully from this plan and from Jones," said Stephan Baar from the 'Christian Community of Cologne' in the western German city.

"We are as shocked as the rest of the world," Baar added in an interview with news agency AFP. "This has nothing to do with us and nothing to do with our beliefs," he said.

Jones, the pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida says he will burn copies of the Koran on this weekend's ninth anniversary of the September 11 airborne attacks in protest at what he calls "the evil of Islam."

Baar said his community had had "no contact" with Jones since the disgraced pastor left in 2008 over "differences over direction."

Jones founded the German community at the start of the 1980s. When he left, it had around 800 members but now numbers between 60 and 80, Baar said.

The controversial Jones took over the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida after the previous head died in the 1990s but continued to lead the community in Cologne, Baar said.

In 2002, a court in Cologne fined Jones €3,000 ($3,800) for assuming the title of "doctor" when he was not qualified to do so.

Jones' Koran-burning plan has sparked outrage across the world. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slammed it as "disgraceful" while the Vatican termed it "an outrageous and grave gesture."

The European Union and the Arab League have also condemned the proposed mass burning.

Islamic leaders have warned that if the planned burning goes ahead, it would damage ties between Muslims and the United States.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

17:27 September 8, 2010 by NYsteve
As an American, i had to be first to comment...this "pastor" does NOT represent the feelings or minds of the citizens of the USA.....I am all for the First Amendment...Freedom of Speech......but this man does not know what he is talking about......I honestly think he never read the Koran.....and his "church" is called World OUTREACH.....please don't reach out to me pal!
17:32 September 8, 2010 by onemark
This guy is no Christian, just an ignorant bigot.
18:01 September 8, 2010 by NYsteve

Yes, I agree 100%

I was reading about this here in the US for the last 2 days now...and someone else said it perfectly...one of the problems with freedom of speech is that it also allows the freedom to be ignorant.....HOW TRUE!

I am not a religious person at all...but I do believe in the freedom of EVERYONE to do as they choose...christians, non-christians, muslims, jews, pagans, atheists and agnostics.....this man's ignorance speaks more volumes than the single book he would like to burn.

I just hope the muslim world realizes this is a single "village idiot" and not the American people speaking.

19:00 September 8, 2010 by Julio Chavezmontes
The unbelievable "idea" of this "pastor" to burn copies of the Coran to avenge the 9/11 attacks is regretfuly crazy and evil!

Everybody knows that Islam, as every other major religion, preaches LOVE of God and LOVE of fellow humans.

The attacks of 9/11 have nothing to do with Islam, just as much as Sionist policy in the Palestinian genocide has nothing to do with Judaism.

As long as we insist on alieneting "others" in the name of "racial superiority", "chosen people" or "manifest destiny", there will be war and tragedy trhoughout our world.

With "leaders" like pastor Jones, perpetrating and promoting such barbaric actions, we are as good as hopeless.

We are all brothers and sisters, children of the same God, regardless of the way we worship Him.

There is a very strong oposition to radical Sionist policies in Israel, which proves that there are sane and humane people all over the world.

We should not allow hateful people to spread ideas as those expressed by Pastor Jones.

It makes me sad to realize the horrible things we have done "in the name of our own true god", created in our very perticular image, and not as it is, the other way around.

God bless us all.

19:10 September 8, 2010 by Prufrock2010
This fruitloop, appropriately named Jones (as in another insane preacher of Jonestown fame), has admitted in a television interview that he has never read the Koran.

I am a staunch defender of the First Amendment right to free speech, including book and flag burning. But the First Amendment is not absolute, as the courts have consistently ruled, and this man's conduct (assuming he goes through with it) strikes me as treasonous, as it will be giving aid and comfort to a declared enemy of the US and will inevitably be used as a powerful propaganda tool in the recruitment of terrorists.

I'm rather shocked to learn of the German connection, as I haven't seen that reported in the US media.
20:34 September 8, 2010 by OMFG
What I find extremely frightening is, that in an opinion poll by msnbc.com about 25% of msnbc.com readers (don't know how representative that "sample" is) do not think that Mr. Jones should reconsider his conduct.

This is what scares me the most!
20:55 September 8, 2010 by BR549
Oh, well...another "crusader" continuing the age-old war between Islam and Christianity. While I do not agree with his plan, or beliefs, I have to support freedom of speech and the US Constitution...even when it makes me uncomfortable. It is a test of our nation's foundation of liberty and freedom. It is his CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to publicly request a can of "whoop ass" bestowed upon him.
22:55 September 8, 2010 by furious_angel
I am not an American but can safely say that he doesnt represent Americans. Freedom of speech should be there but not to the extent where its intended to hurt others. I think this is just a cheap publicity stunt to gain media attention. I heard his interview by a news channel and he didnt seem to know anything about what he was talking about.
08:24 September 9, 2010 by ReaderX
Funny how religious people with the last name of Jones are such idiots.

And not this guy does not represent me as an American either. The guy looks like a money grubbing moron using religion to scam people.
09:45 September 9, 2010 by dacarch
An absolut fool making a fool of the media worldwide that have fallen for this. What if nobody payed attention to 50 empty brains in Gainsville? This is the danger/strength of the internet, stupid ideas like these become events, and grab the attention of even Angelina and me. I should be working instead of writing this... I fell for it! damn.
11:43 September 9, 2010 by frankiep
When an American flag is burned, which is just about a daily occurrence in some places, it is no big deal. At least there isn't the hand wringing and complaining about "ignorance" and "bigotry" of those who do it. However, some fruitcake pastor threatens to burn a koran (he hasn't even done it yet) and it is cause for worldwide outrage and condemnation. Unbelievable. You people complaining so vehemently about this are either hypocrites for your selective outrage, or cowards for being so afraid of what might happen if some fruitcake burns some paper.

If Islam is the religion of peace and love as so many claim it to be, then why are you all so worried about what might happen if some pieces are paper are burned? Americans are consistently called violent warmongers (not peaceful like Muslims) yet, despite our obviously violent and hateful ways, you don't see any one giving a second thought to what the consequences might be if someone burns an American flag, but let someone even mention burning a koran and all of a sudden everyone gets all worked up about not antagonizing the peace loving Muslims.

Just saying....
12:24 September 9, 2010 by adipk
I condemn this act. I am Muslim if he is goint to this than there will be no difference between taliban/ al-qaida( they itself is religion and group, please dont mark them muslim) and him. they are only creating mess. My Christians friends respect my religion and i respect their. There is no problem.

Please let me say that this idiot person belong to AL-qaida. who has no concern with humanity.
12:40 September 9, 2010 by frankiep

Are you f%&!?$# serious? Are you really saying that someone who burns some paper, an act which harms NO ONE, is the same as a mass murderer?! How many people has this fruitcake pastor murdered? How many people has he threatened to murder?

Now, how many people have the taliban/al-qaeda murdered?

Any rational person, not blinded by political correctness, should be able to see that there is a HUGE difference between someone exercising their right to free speech, and a terrorist organization responsible for countless deaths.
13:01 September 9, 2010 by Prufrock2010
frankiep --

I don't think any rational person who is conversant with the US Constitution would argue that this highly irrational preacher doesn't have a right to burn a Koran, the American flag or the Constitution, for that matter. His RIGHT is not being challenged. His incendiary (pun intended) publicity stunt is, on the grounds that he is willfully creating a propaganda tool that will be used by al Qaeda and the Taliban to recruit more terrorists and will certainly alienate otherwise moderate Muslims, thus leading to the deaths of countless soldiers and civilians. Just as the majority of Muslims living in their stone-age Middle Eastern and South Asian theocratic societies cannot fathom the freedom of speech available in Western secular societies, they cannot differentiate between one person's right to be an opportunistic hate-monger and public policy. Actions have consequences, as this deranged "preacher" knows full well. People will died because of his exercise of his constitutional rights. He will have blood on his hands. That's why everyone with a lick of sense everywhere in the world is condemning this proposed idiocy. He is giving aid and comfort to the declared enemies of the United States. That is called treason.
13:40 September 9, 2010 by NYsteve

VERY well said! I applaud you! Yes, it isn't the "act" we are screaming about...it's the repercussions of people who don't understand the thought process...
15:51 September 9, 2010 by frankiep
I have heard that argument many times...and it still doesn't make any sense. We are talking about people who are already sick enough to kill themselves and as many other people as possible along with them in the name of their god. These lunatics have already committed some incredibly heinous acts of murder and terror before this random pastor came along and said he wanted to burn their book. So don't try to tell me that this guy's actions are going to somehow drive these lunatics over the edge, because they have already passed that point a long time ago.

And another thing. This pastor may be an idiot, but if anyone dies because of him burning a book it would only be his fault if that death occurred due to the fire being to big and burning someone. No. Any deaths as a result of this will be the fault of the same types of lunatics who see nothing wrong with flying planes into buildings, strapping bombs to themselves and walking into crowded public places, beheading infidels, etc. Any attempt to someone place the blame on some wingnut pastor will only be an excuse. And rest assured, if they couldn't use him as an excuse then they will, true to form, very easily find something else they can point to in order to justify why people must die. And, once again true to form, people like many of you will be all to happy to placate them in the hopes that doing so will pacify these animals.
16:18 September 9, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Ah, frankie...

We can explain it to you but we can't understand it for you.
16:33 September 9, 2010 by frankiep
No, please, explain to me how it would be dangerous for someone to exercise his right to free speech if the people he is speaking against are peaceful, tolerant, and loving people who don't believe in resorting to violent acts of murder at the slightest provocation. Make me understand exactly many people were burning their book on September 10, 2001 thus causing the peace-loving, tolerant Muslims to slaughter 3000 people in retaliation.
17:29 September 9, 2010 by NYsteve


current situation = a fire (figuratively speaking)

pastor burning korans = gasoline

can't think of anything simpler...no offense!!
17:51 September 9, 2010 by frankiep
right. and if they aren't thrown into a murderous rage because of an idiot pastor then rest assured they WILL find something else to throw them into a murderous rage. For examples of this just look up the cases of Theo van Gogh and Mohammed cartoons to name a just a couple.

Your willingness to turn someone who is exercising his right to free speech (no matter how dumb he might look) and hurting no one in the process into some sort of villain responsible for the tendencies of stone age lunatics who view the slightest insult as justifiable grounds for murder is disturbing.
18:01 September 9, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Ever hear of Abu Ghraib, Frankie? Ever hear of Guantanamo? Ever hear of waterboarding? They are the top 3 recruitment tools in the terrorists' kit bag.

Your willingness to characterize 1.4 billion Muslims as radical murderous lunatics is what's truly disturbing. But I guarantee you one thing -- if this crazy bastard in Florida goes through with this stunt, Osama bin Ladin will be celebrating in his cave. This will be the greatest propaganda coup al Qaeda has ever had, and there will be hell to pay. This ain't how you persuade 1.4 billion religiously fervent people to eschew radicalism.
19:27 September 9, 2010 by frankiep
Are you trying to imply that Islamic terrorism didn't exist and wasn't a worldwide problem prior to Abu Ghraib and waterboarding.

And by the way, anyone who needs to be persuaded NOT to try to blow other people (infidels) up in response to some burning pieces of paper is not exactly someone I would want to curtail my rights for.

Try re-reading what you just wrote and see if you can understand the danger of demonizing someone who has committed no crime nor plans to do so in an illogical attempt to somehow pacify lunatics. And I'm sorry if you don't like the term lunatic, but it really is the best way to describe one who would potentially be driven to murderous rage because of burning paper.
20:04 September 9, 2010 by Prufrock2010
I'm not trying to imply anything. I'm stating it clearly and succinctly. Islamic terrorist recruitment rose exponentially after Bush invaded Iraq and the atrocities at Abu Ghraib were disclosed.

No one's "rights" are being curtailed. The lunatic pastor of a flock of 50 cultists has every right to do what he is threatening to do. And he will be culpable for his actions.

Unfortunately, you don't get it and you never will. You are as closed off to reason as the cult leader you are defending. That's a shame, because you are obviously not a stupid person. You are simply a victim of your hatred.
20:32 September 9, 2010 by Linda Rivera
U.S. Leaders have a MORAL responsibility to stop this madman. Burning Korans offends EVERY Muslim and that is very wrong. This act can cause a large number of innocents to be attacked and murdered. That is NOT freedom to cause innocents to be murdered! Prevent the shedding of innocent blood and stop this insane man now!
20:43 September 9, 2010 by NYsteve

aahhh...that's the tricky part....

He's guaranteed the right to freedom of speech by our constitution....NO ONE may legally stop him. Not even the President, FBI or local police.....everyone is hoping he wises up or succombs to peer pressure to see the lunacy of what he proposes.

America...what a country...
21:25 September 9, 2010 by BR549
No US Leader has a MORAL responsibilty to do a DARNED THING. Freedom of speech under the constitution. End of argument! If someone disagrees or believes differently than you and speaks / protests publicly about it, Just GET OVER IT or do your own "publicity stunt".

What kills me the most about followers of any organized faith / religion is that they can't seem to privately believe what they believe for their own well being. NOOOOOOooooooo, they have to worry about everyone elses well being and sway them to believe as they do, for everyone's eternal salvation. I have some advice, live your life HERE and NOW, worry about the afterlife (if there is such a thing) when you get there and if someone disagrees or pulls some stupid publicity stunt, let it go and move on.....
21:43 September 9, 2010 by OMFG
Speaking of Freedom of Speech, or of the First Amendment... I have a serious question, and I would really appreciate getting an answer to that:

What would happen if I said to a US Police Officer (or to an Immigrations Officer), that I think he/she is an a$$hole? Would that be covered under Freedom of Speech?

And if not, why would it be different to the case of Ref. Jones burning the Koran?
22:09 September 9, 2010 by Prufrock2010

I'm going to answer your question as an attorney. You could say it and you would most likely be arrested (or worse). You would be charged under some local or federal law under the guise of "interfering with a peace officer," or something similar. You would have a Constitutional defense that would probably prevail after several court appearances, possibly a misdemeanor conviction, and an appeal that would take about 2 years and cost you approximately $200,000 in attorney's fees.

The Constitutional right to free speech is not absolute, as the courts have routinely held over the past 100 years, and one of the exceptions is the utterance of "fighting words." Calling a cop or a federal officer an a$$hole in the US would be foolhardy at best.

Your hypothetical differs from the Koran burning because what Jones is planning to do is protected political "speech," just as the US Supreme Court has held that burning the flag is protected political speech.
22:29 September 9, 2010 by BR549
I would like to share a little philosophy, instead of religious debate. Let's go along the lines of Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and the like: Focus your thoughts entirely what pertains to YOU and be absolutely clear that opinions and the business is of no matter to YOU. Look at anything unpleasant to you as nothing more than an appearance and in no way what it appears to be. If a situation is anything beyond your control, the train yorself to to focus too much (if any) on it.

If some religious Redneck, Al quida finatic or Tom Cruise type chooses to make a ripple, let them. It will have no effect on yourself. Fretting over trivial things only damage you and the community of humanity of which you belong.

Look at this man. He has a congregation of 80 people in Florida. He represents only foolissh, uneducated finatics. Burning a book, made of paper, can by no means destroy the message of that book. No more than burning a FLAG can destroy the belief of a nation in liberty, freedom and prosperity.

Don't add fuel to his fire,and it will fizzle.
22:36 September 9, 2010 by lr222
I am not in favor of this pastor's actions, but OMFG, there's a world of difference. Jones didn't call a copy Mohammed or anyone a name. You have the freedom to PROTEST and book burning has been with us for quite some time in many forms.

Pentagon burns bibles

23:13 September 9, 2010 by Prufrock2010
CNN is just now reporting that this lunatic has canceled his Koran burning stunt. Apparently he got his 15 minutes of fame.
23:16 September 9, 2010 by BR549
One last note: Please look at the picture of Rev. Jones in this article. He is holding a book written by him titled "Islam is of the Devil". What a BS Appalachian focussed title! Obviously, he is promoting a book, using the same tactic as Sarrazin. He is a TROLL.... see what this is REALLY about, not the surface topic.
09:30 September 10, 2010 by Keith_F
I was going to applaud the group on the comments...untill I got to "frankiep" post. While I understand what "frankiep" is trying to say, I think that the whole action is just tasteless, inappropriate and dumb.
09:53 September 10, 2010 by adipk
Ok fine, if western society thinks that people living in Islamic countries are dumb or hardliner than its their own understanding and media biased information. But this act will defiantly push other Muslim to think in wrong way. If Muslims are stereotyped as hardliner than Muslim can also remember old christian fundamentalist. Secular societies are hurting their own people, humiliating humanity and laughing . so sick.

If this is freedom of speech than please excuse me i dont want to open my lips.
14:34 September 10, 2010 by frankiep
One last thing to think about for everyone here calling this guy a lunatic or a madman....

How exactly is this any different from, oh lets say, a crucifix being soaked in urine and put on display as an 'art' exhibit?

I don't seem to recall very many people claiming that this sort of speech is/was somehow over the line and dangerous. Anyone want to take a guess as to why that is?
16:18 September 10, 2010 by Prufrock2010
There's a WAR going on, frankie. You don't get it and you never will.
17:45 September 10, 2010 by OMFG
@Prufrock - Thanks for your quick and detailed answer, it was very helpful and good to understand.

@Ir222 - I should probably have formulated my very last question somewhat clearer... I am very much aware of the fact that there is a world of a difference. My intention was rather to ask about the LEGAL difference between the two cases of expressing one's opinion (and Prufrock did answer that question, too). I think we're not just talking about generic "book burning" here, since - as every intelligent individual knows - burning of the Koran is perceived by Muslims as extremely insulting; more than just burning books (which is bad enough) and probably more than burning a Bible is perceived as insulting by the average Christian.

There are cultural differences that - in my personal opinion - must be respected.
17:59 September 10, 2010 by yanksavage
The article reads that if the Koran burning takes place, that it would damage relations betwen Muslims and the US. Really? Like relations are that great anyway? I certainly understand that this is offensive to Muslims, and I condmen the act, but shouldn't this be a wake up call to Muslims to start making an effort to stop provoking the West? If Islam is a religion of 'Love' and 'Peace' then I'd like to witness some of restraint on their part. I would suggest building a mosque in a plce other than Manhattan.
18:05 September 10, 2010 by recherche
Germany has every right to control who comes into the country and it should watch out. Many people have pointed out the obvious fact that religion is all about race. Moslems are not fighting about about Allah they are fighting and killing about race [eg Taliban in Afghanistan]. The Westbank in Israel is not a religious difference between Moslems and Jews as much as a racial one. The Chinese problem with Moslem Uyghurs is plainly about race, the Chinese state having abolished religion. What Jones is saying is simply that the Moslem races have shown their violent antipathy to everyone else. They talk alot about the religion, but we all know it is race and culture that they are fighting for. The Crusaders used to carry on about Christianity, but the fact is they were defending the border of Europe against Asia. So when Indians, Moslems, Jews, Hindus, Chinese come to live in Europe, be assured they do not intend to relinquish their racial/cultural identity. Some may wish to become Europeans, it is true, but recent strife suggests the majority do not. The main thing is to be absolutely clear that religion is not some mystical, warm, fuzzy feeling, it is the standard bearer of a race/culture.

When a child says it's prayers before going to bed, it does not do so as a Protestant, Catholic, Jew, Moslem, Hindu or anything else, it is just personal token spirituality. It is only when the child is a little older that the herd-instinct of religion sweeps it into it's thralldom. Which religion depends where the child lives.

I hope this doesn't invoke screams of racism, because the intent only is to strike a blow against religious hypocrisy.
18:08 September 10, 2010 by NYsteve
I may be a "lone voice" but I think the mosque at Ground Zero would be the PERFECT place for it. It actually is a few blocks away, not right at GZ, by the way.

#1 - America was founded on religious freedom...ANY religion.

#2 - On der Spiegel site yesterday there where articles about how 9/11 is becoming America's "holiday of hate"...by allowing the mosque to open exactly where they planned it...and both muslims and non-muslims living and worshiping in this "holy site" (GZ)...holy in the sense of the amount of rememberance and tragedy that occured there.....it would send the best message to the world of how people of different backgrounds & theologies can get along and build a better future. Just the act of remembering 9/11 does nothing...you have to work on the future.
19:58 September 10, 2010 by Prufrock2010
recherche --

Sorry, but you lost me (and I suspect just about everyone else) with the comment "...the obvious fact that religion is all about race."

That just might be the most preposterous thing I've ever read, to put it mildly.
20:29 September 10, 2010 by OMFG

So, when a child says its prayers before going to bed, and it does so in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, whether it is an Indian or a black or a Chinese or a white child - it's all about race?

Granted, it's a child...but it's been most probably its Indian or black or Chinese or white parents to teach him the good-night prayers.
23:29 September 10, 2010 by Beachrider
From a 'Libertarian' perspective, any burning of symbolic value is protected. It can be a flag, human-effigy, Quran or whatever. Thomas Jefferson (president #3) was sworn in on a Quran in 1800, its symbolic equivalence to a Bible or other faith-based documents is understood by many in America.

American Moslems would certainly be offended (let us worry about them first and overseas people later), but they have seen enough symbolic burning to understand that it doesn't mean that all-Americans hate what the Quran stands for. It just means that one pissed-off (perhaps crazy) person wants to burn one.

If someone wants to tell us that some others will use this to recruit terrorists, I can see that we don't want them to do that. I just don't know if we give-in more by suspending rights to speech.

I hope that the crazy bastard doesn't do it.
00:23 September 11, 2010 by Prufrock2010
No one's even suggesting suspending anyone's rights to free speech. That said, not all speech is constitutionally protected. Hate speech is not constitutionally protected, nor is speech intended to incite violence or terror, including cross-burning under certain circumstances. Libel and slander are not constitutionally protected, either.

I also hope that the crazy bastard doesn't do it, but I'm fairly certain that someone else will, now that he's demonstrated how easy it is to get publicity by using a little terrorist rhetoric and threatening to incite more than a billion people to violence.

With rights come responsibilities. This fool has abused all Americans' First Amendment rights by his outrageous demonstration of narcissistic irresponsibility.
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