Christian and Muslim groups have forthrightly condemned a planned public burning of the Qur'an by a Florida church on the ninth anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States - writes Chris Herlinger.
A statement released by the Protestant Churches of Egypt through the US United Church of Christ on 10 August 2010 said it "regrets this destructive thought and declares total rejection of any attack against others' religions and beliefs."
It said Christian teaching encourages cooperation and "respect for others regardless [of] their affiliation or religion," and that every human person should be seen as a sibling.
The statement was in reference to a planned action by the Dove World Outreach Center, a Florida-based institution that calls itself a "New Testament Church".
The centre plans to publicly burn copies of the Qur'an on 11 September in a protest against Islam, which it says "is of the devil." The church also refers to the Qur'an as "a lie."
It says, "Christians are called to live and speak the truth, and to tear down the strongholds of the kingdom of darkness". The protest has spawned an "International Burn a Koran Day" page on the social networking site Facebook.
The Egyptian church said in response it would work with other religious bodies to denounce the planned action.
In a statement to mark the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the US National Council of Churches and other bodies decried "anti-Muslim actions and plans" such as those of the Dove centre and the "International Burn a Koran Day" initiative.
"Such open acts of hatred are not a witness to Christian faith, but a grave trespass against the ninth commandment, a bearing of false witness against our neighbour," the statement said. "They contradict the ministry of Christ and the witness of the church in the world."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based group, has said it is responding to the Florida church's planned action by distributing copies of the Qur'an to journalists, public officials, law enforcement authorities and others during Ramadan.
"Islamophobia is being promoted by a vocal minority of individuals and groups that seek to marginalise American Muslims and demonise Islam," CAIR spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper recently told the Cairo-based Daily News Egypt.
"CAIR believes it is important to challenge the rising level of anti-Islam sentiment in American society."
CAIR has said it is increasingly concerned about protests and public sentiments against the construction of mosques and Islamic cultural centres in the United States.
[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]