News accounts in Israel have quoted Uzi Aharon, the deputy mayor of Or-Yehuda, as saying he organized students who burned several hundred copies of the New Testament. The deputy mayor gave interviews to Israeli radio and television stations after word of the incident surfaced about two weeks ago.This incident (like the one involving a Qur'an this blog noted on May 17), the laws that pertain to it, and the responses to it continue to demonstrate that violence against books is understood by all parties involved as being comparable to violence against people and/or ideas and that violence against a book can quickly lead to other forms of conflict.
Soon he was talking with Russian, Italian and French television stations, "explaining to their highly offended audiences back home how he had not meant for the Bibles to be burned, and trying to undo the damage caused by the news (and photographs) of Jews burning New Testaments," The Jerusalem Post reported.
Aharon told CNN on Wednesday that he collected New Testaments and other "Messianic propaganda" that had been handed out in the city but that he did not plan or organize a burning. Instead, he said, three teenagers set fire to a pile of New Testaments while he was not present. Once he learned what was going on, he said, he stopped the burning.
[. . .]
About 200 New Testaments were burned, Aharon said, but he saved another 200.
His goal was to stop attempts to distribute Christian literature in the city, he said.
[. . .]
Myers said his complaint will ask the authorities to investigate possible violations of two Israeli laws. One forbids the destruction or desecration of any religious icon or item that a group holds sacred. Another bans people from speaking publicly in a way that offends or humiliates a certain religion.
Both laws are meant to prevent people from inciting religious violence, he said.
Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
New Testaments Burned in Israel
Several news outlets are reporting on an incident in Israel in which New Testaments were burned about two weeks ago. According to CNN's coverage, the deputy mayor of Or-Yehuda collected them and when he was not present, someone set them on fire: