Congressional leaders Sunday denounced the recent Koran burning in Florida that is being blamed for days of deadly anti-American riots across Afghanistan and hinted at possible congressional condemnation or hearings.
The book burning, done by Florida pastor Terry Jones with little publicity at the time almost two weeks ago, is being blamed for attacks that led to the deaths of seven U.N. workers on Friday.
Protests continued during the weekend, with 10 people killed in rioting in Kandahar on Saturday and Sunday. Hundreds of demonstrators burned an effigy of President Obama on Sunday in Jalalabad while stomping on a U.S. flag and blocking the main highway for three hours, according to reporters in Afghanistan.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was asked by host Bob Schieffer on CBS’ “Face the Nation” whether he would “introduce a resolution to condemn” the burning of the Muslim holy book, as requested by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The Nevada Democrat replied, “Well, we’ll take a look at this, of course. John Kerry, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has been on top of this. He’s made many trips to Afghanistan and I think will take a look at this.”
On the same show, Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, made an analogy to wartime free-speech limits and said, “I wish we could find a way to hold people accountable. Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war.”
“During World War II, we had limits on what you could do if it inspired the enemy,” he said.
Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that keeping U.S. troops safe is the responsibility of every American.
“Weve asked Americans in every tough conflict weve had in this country to be thoughtful and mindful of each citizen’s responsibility to do their part to make sure our soldiers come home safely and with a sense of an accomplished mission,” he said.
Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, echoed his Republican colleagues during his “Meet the Press” appearance Sunday.
“I understand … the First Amendment,” he said. “But I want to tell you, this pastor with his publicity stunt with the Koran unfortunately endangers the lives of our troops and the citizens of this country and a lot of innocent people.”
On Saturday, Mr. Obama called the burning “an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry” and extended condolences to families of the dead U.S. workers.
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