Australian burns Quran and Bible

Monday, September 13, 2010

MELBOURNE - An Australian has posted a video of himself burning the Quran and the Bible on video sharing website YouTube, drawing widespread criticism, a media report said Monday.

Queensland University of Technology’s Alex Stewart has taken leave from his non-academic position as a commercial contracts lawyer and now expects to be sacked, reported Monday.

The university is now probing the 12-minute homemade video, put on YouTube Friday.

The Islamic Association of Australia Monday morning called on Muslims to remain calm following widespread criticism of the act.

The Catholic Church, QUT and the Queensland Law Society have also condemned the video clip.

Sheik Muhammad Wahid, president of The Islamic Association of Australia, urged “hurt” Muslims not to retaliate.

“Of course we’re hurt … but I would urge my Muslim fellow men to respond with caution and with responsibility,” he was quoted as saying.

“They should be careful when they respond upon these issues. We are a community of tolerance (and) understanding.

“Of course people will be angry but I urge they should not take the law into their own hands and they should show their response in a positive way to explain (to) the whole Australian public that we must live in a way that we respect each other’s faith and practices.”

Bishop Michael Putney, a spokesman for the Catholic Church, said Stewart had caused pain.

“I think some will get a bit cross with him and others will say what a silly fellow he is,” Bishop Putney, who chairs the Australian Catholic Church’s committee for ecumenism and inter-religious relations, was quoted as saying.

“(Stewart) has caused pain in people and may incite anger in people and I don’t think that’s ever acceptable. I would think his behaviour gives atheism a bad name and I suspect the university will be a little bit embarrassed by what he’s done.”

Stewart, who is an atheist, seems to be smoking marijuana that is rolled in pages from the religious texts. He then rates which “burns better”.

Stewart’s video comes close on the heels of a US pastor threatening to burn the Quran to mark the 9/11 anniversary. The pastor’s threat sparked global outrage.

On Monday morning, Stewart met the varsity management and agreed to take leave, a university spokesperson said.

He fears that won’t be permitted to return to the Brisbane campus.

“I’m screwed. I think I will lose my job over this. Damn it,” he wrote on a website for Brisbane Atheists.

He clarified that that the substance shown in the video was lawn clippings, the media report said.

In the video, he indicated the substance of being marijuana and pre-empted a police probe.

“I probably won’t appear on webcam again after the police come and arrest me.”

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