Johannesburg: A South African court on Saturday
blocked a Muslim businessman of Indian-origin from burning a
copy of the holy Bible in response to an American
pastor`s threat to burn Quran on the ninth anniversary of the
Johannesburg High Court issued an urgent interdict
blocking Mohammed Vawda`s plan to burn copies of the holy
bible on the lawns of a public square.
The court ruling came on a petition filed by Scholars
for Truth, an Islamic Intellectual Organisation, seeking its
intervention on the issue.
Vawda said he embarked on the "Bible-burning plan"
after he was "angered and outraged" by Florida pastor Terry
Jones` decision and "his refusal to change his plan even at
the request of US President Barack Obama."
Jones has suspended his plan pending discussion with
Muslim leaders who planned to build an Islamic Centre near
Ground Zero, where the attacks took place.
Vawda cited South African Constitutional protection of
the Freedom of Expression, but the court ruled that the
attempt to burn the Bible limited this right as it would cause
offence to other citizens.
Vawda, who indicated that his intention was never to
antagonise South African Christians, many of whom have also
spoken out publicly against Jones` plan, decided not to burn
the bible after the court decision.
He said the organisation pointed out that the Quran
itself recognised the sanctity of the Gospel and the Jewish
Torah, thus requiring respect for these religious scriptures
"(The) applicants brought to my attention verses of
the Quran that I was not aware of. The Quran says that the
Gospel is part of the Quran, so if I burnt the Bible, I would
also be burning the Quran," Vawda said.
"If Jones were to burn the Quran, he would also be
burning the Bible," he said.
Vawda said he considered it "lucky" that the
applicants had stopped him from his intention of burning the
"I have renewed respect for the Gospel and actually
embrace it," he said.
Vawda made a strong plea for the US to enact laws to
stop anyone intending to burn holy books.
"Obtaining this court order is a message to the
Americans, showing them ways of involving the law in
interdicting such conduct in future," the organisation`s
attorney Zehir Omar said.