The Shofar is the ancient trumpet which called the people of God to prayer, repentance, sacrifice and war.


Wednesday 8 September 2010 18.00hrs

A leading Christian lobby group has said the reaction to the plans of an American pastor to hold a burning of the Koran proves his point.

The Reverend Terry Jones, whose small church is based in Gainsville , Florida , is intending to burn copies of the Koran on the 9th anniversary of 9/11.

The event will be held at his church, the Dove World Outreach Centre on Saturday, unless the Pastor calls a halt. He has promised to pray about his decision.

General David Petraeus warned that "images of the burning of a Koran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan - and around the world - to inflame public opinion and incite violence". Pastor Jones has already been burned in effigy in Afghanistan .

Mr Jones himself said he has received more than 100 death threats and has started wearing a .40-calibre pistol strapped to his hip.

But Stephen Green, National Director of UK-based Christian Voice, said the General's comments and the threats against Pastor Jones illustrate why the pastor has felt the need to take such a dramatic step.

'I sympathise with the General's position, even though American and British troops have no business being in Afghanistan - or Iraq - in the first place. If David Petraeus wants to know what radicalises Muslims in the West more than anything else, he need look no further than his own command of US forces in Afghanistan. Our troops are courageous and I have nothing but admiration for them, but it is not just their lives in peril as they fight a lost cause for democracy in a foreign land, our Government is putting the lives of British people at risk from terrorism at home.

'I am also concerned about the impact of Pastor Jones' actions on Christians in Pakistan and other Muslim countries. They are already terrorised by their Muslim neighbours. How much more will they have to put up with by becoming identified with Pastor Jones?

'Christian Voice members would never burn a Koran. I hope that would be more out of respect for the feelings of others than out of fear.

'Pastor Jones' action is extreme, but he is obviously a man of courage and sometimes extreme things have to be done. I can think of nothing more extreme than going to the Cross to bear the sins of others, which was what Jesus Christ did. But if we are talking of extremists, Islam has more than its fair share of them.

'The Koran itself commands Muslims to retaliate. A Muslim lady kindly gave me a copy of the Koran when I was helping Muslims set up a parents' group against sex education in schools in Waltham Forest . In it I read from Sura 2:194, "And one who attacks you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you." Agreed, we must defend our wives and families, and Jesus said "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends", but the Lord also extolled us to turn the other cheek.

'The previous Koran verse says, "And fight them until persecution (another version says 'tumult and oppression', meaning resistance to Islam) is no more, and religion is for Allah." It is hard not to build a theology of violence and global expansion on Koranic verses like that, and on the life of Mohammed himself, who went about expanding Islam at the point of the sword.

'I was on the Jeremy Vine programme today, listening to the ultra-moderate Muslim (actually she is more of an extreme secularist) Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, call for tolerance from Muslims and plead for her religion to be regarded as one of peace. She is right that Western governments have encouraged in the past the very terrorism they now fear. But she ignores her own history and is whistling in the wind.

'If you enter the great Islamic beacon which is Saudi Arabia with a Bible, you will soon find out about Islamic respect for sacred texts. If they find it in your luggage, customs will shred it. If they find two, you are in the cells. And it is all very well for people like Yasmin to condemn that, but it is actually happening with Islam-in-practice.

'The majority of Muslims in the UK may well be currently peaceable and wanting to live a quiet life, but all the news we hear shows they are easily radicalised by almost anything. They are not at all impressed with infidels treading all over Iraq and Afghanistan , as I have mentioned. But it goes farther than that. A Muslim converting to Christianity is immediately a pariah and will be ostracised and attacked, because the penalty for apostasy is death. The earthly penalty for apostasy in Christianity is that we pray for the man to return. We don't throw bricks through his window or torch his car, as has happened to Nissar Hussain in Bradford.

'And us Christians should hang our heads in shame that for all this trouble and fear about the burning of the Koran, hardly a breath of protest was heard about the burning to death of a Pakistani Christian in March, whose wife who witnessed his death was then gang-raped by three policemen.  The Italian Foreign Ministry summoned the Pakistani envoy, but why were we not all outside the nearest Pakistani Embassy or High Commission?

'I truly wish Christians would take the persecution of our brethren and indeed insults against our faith more seriously, although I should never want us to be screaming hatred like Muslim youth do. The threshold for tolerance in Islam is set very low indeed.  In Christianity it sometimes seems so high (on the pretext of turning the other cheek) that we tolerate anything and evil has a free hand.

'I am also glad that Christians would never contemplate suicide (they call it "martyrdom") missions killing innocent bystanders, as Muslim terrorists do. Sadly, you will find a significant minority of Muslims ready to express support for their brethren who flew planes into the Twin Towers , caused the London bombings or who let off bombs in crowded restaurants in Tel Aviv. In polls, 16% of young British Muslims supported suicide bombings in Israel and 24% agreed or tended to agree that the London bombings were justified. A similar percentage denied that Muslims did them at all, blaming them on the British Government.'

Pastor Jones said: 'How much do we back down? How many times do we back down? Instead of us backing down, maybe it's to time to stand up. Maybe it's time to send a message to radical Islam that we will not tolerate their behaviour.'

There can be little doubt that Pastor Jones is reacting in part to the proposal to build a mosque near the Twin Towers Ground Zero site, but his concerns are wider. Significantly, Hilary Clinton upbraided him at a dinner she attended in observance of 'Iftar', the breaking of the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic seem mesmerised by Islam, promoting it to the extent of fanaticism.

Stephen Green continued, 'Anyone condemned by Hilary Clinton, who has gone so far out of her way to promote the wickedness of abortion and homosexuality across the globe, must have at least some good in them. Although I would not do what Pastor Jones is doing, I must say I could not help warming to him as soon as I heard that Hilary Clinton had condemned him.

'But perhaps the secularist agenda that Hilary stands for explains the rise of Islam in the West. Both Pastor Jones and I live in a hedonistic, selfish, crass, idolatrous culture in its death throes. Sex has become exalted into a religion, sodomy is regarded by the elite as morally equivalent to heterosexual love and marriage, marriage vows are cast aside on a whim, children are thrown into day-care, the elderly are legally euthanased and we sacrifice our own children in abortion clinics.

'Our elite extol everything that isn't Christian, whether it is secularist or Hindu or Islamic. Add in their fear of Islam and their aversion to offending Muslims out of fear or because they want to be seen as "multi-cultural" and you have all the ingredients of an Islamic takeover when the population reaches around 30%, which it could do in the UK within a generation.

'Pastor Jones is trying to raise a prophetic voice albeit in too provocative a way, but I know his church has focused on sodomy and abortion in the past. In one sense Islam is a symptom rather than the cause of the problem, and I speak as someone who opposes the building of mosques and who leads regular prayer vigils at the site of the proposed West Ham 'megamosque', praying against it.

'Islam is only filling a vacuum which would not exist if Christian men stood up to be counted against the secularist evils of our day. We should be pressing the Crown Rights of King Jesus, proclaiming loud and strong that this is a Christian nation and that it needs to repent and return to Almighty God, overturning a lot of fashionable laws passed in the last fifty years along the way. Then, faced with what the Prayer Book describes as 'Christ's Church Militant here on Earth', Islam won't find a spiritual foothold in either the UK or the USA , or in any Christian country.

'The truth is, if we don't stand up for Jesus now, we shall find ourselves bowing the knee to Allah before very long.'