It's taken quite a while for people to wake up to the madness of the Reverend Terry Jones of the inappropriately named Dove World Outreach Centre. That the Rev Jones is a few inches short of a foot and that his threatened burning of the Koran on 9/11 is nothing but the ravings of a lunatic is clear to most people. (There's an irony in that the other Terry Jones directed The Life of Brian which at the time caused quite a stir in the church halls and vicarages of deepest Kent and Suffolk).
Now the world has taken notice. Leaders in India, with a large Muslim constituency, Pakistan, Indonesia and Afghanistan are warning of demonstrations and violence. Senior US military personnel are warning that the actions of Mad Terry could lead to increased US deaths in war zones and elsewhere. And now President Obama has weighed in calling the Rabid Rev's plans " a recruiting bonanza" for al - Qaeda.
The President of Pakistan is surprised that the leader of the most powerful nation on earth can't shut down this madman. Isn't the equation simple? The Rabid Rev goes ahead with his threat and conflagration spreads across the Muslim world and elsewhere. Shut him up and the much vaulted respect in which Obama claims he holds Islam is proven.
Of course it's not that straight forward. Besides the constitutional separation between state and religion in the US, there's the constitutional freedom of religious practice. Even if he could I doubt if Obama would. Enough Americans think he's a closet Muslim to worry the Democrats ahead of the November elections. Coming down heavy on this mad monk would risk confirming that view and making a bad election result a disaster.
However, you'd believe listening to the leaders of the Islamic world that they hadn't registered that this is the action of one man, a leader of a very small church in a small town in the US, and a nutter. He is not representative of the citizens of the US, let alone the non Islamic world. So why talk publicly in a way which is likely to increase tensions. Why can't they tell their people to ignore the actions of one foolish individual. Their religion's big enough to turn the other cheek....
...because to do so would play into the hands of the extremists. That is what we're told. So either they ratchet up the rhetoric (and hope Obama does something) or they hand over the initiative to militants. What a sorry state to find yourself in.
Let's hope the Arch Angel Gabriel with Mohammed's assistance puts the Rev'd Terry Jones right and, instead of burning the Koran, he leads his congregation in a rousing rendition of "Always look on the Bright Side of Life".