Pastor Terry Jones's atrocious plan to burn Korans at his Florida church on September 11 is perceived by Muslims not only as offensive, but also as a deliberate act of blasphemy. Such blasphemy is punished by imprisonment or even execution today by the governments of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and many other key members of the Saudi-based Organization of Islamic States (OIC). The definition of the crime is amorphous, often depending on the sensibilities of the particular group holding religious or political power. It usually proscribes far more than disrespectful treatment of God, the Koran, or the prophet Mohammad, and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Since Feb. 14, 1989, when Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini pronounced Salman Rushdie a blasphemer and ordered his murder, the OIC lobbied Western governments to repress ridicule and critique of Islam, and dissent within Islam, in ways analogous to the repression already existing in many of its own countries. For example, in the United Nations, the OIC has for over a decade successfully sponsored annual resolutions calling for the creation of an international crime against "defamation" of Islam. This demand that Western governments use state power to coerce compliance by their own citizens with Islamic blasphemy strictures is therefore relatively new.

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