The burning of the Quran by pastor Terry Jones was vicious and a deliberate provocation. It was most reprehensible, deserving of condemnation by all, no matter what their faith.
What he did was immeasurably worse because he well knew what the reaction would be among some of the fanatic and misguided Muslims.
He had threatened to burn the Quran on an earlier occasion when the protest against the proposed construction of the so called "Ground Zero Mosque" was at its height. At that time the pastor had been briefed thoroughly about the repercussions that would follow and the danger it would pose to the lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. He had then refrained from carrying out his threat.
A little more than a year later, he went ahead and burned a copy of the Quran. If reports are to be believed, the expressed purpose of the burning was to provoke violence so that it could be used to "prove" that Islam was a violent religion! As if the actions of a few fanatically misguided Muslims can be attributed to Islam itself.
In these circumstances, for him to have done what he did makes him the prime inciter of the ensuing violence and he needs to be held accountable for it.
It is all very well to talk about the freedom of speech and expression. But such freedom cannot, should not, and, to the best of my knowledge, does not extend to committing acts designed to deliberately incite people to violence.
If freedom of religion and peace between different religious faiths is to be maintained, there must be respect and civility between those who profess different faiths.
That having been said, those who raided the UN compound and went on a rampage, killing innocent people, beheading them, injuring them, destroying property, deserve the strongest condemnation possible.
Among those on the rampage at the UN compound many chanted "Death to America" and "Death to the Jews", and those killed included four Nepalese. The UN had nothing to do with the burning of the Quran. Nor did the Americans or Jews as such have to do anything with it. And certainly the Nepalese were not involved in any way. The killing of these innocent people can neither be excused nor forgiven under any circumstances.
One can understand their outrage and anger, and perhaps even admire their zeal to protect the honor of the Quran, but in thus protesting the burning of the "book" they violated and gravely assaulted the spirit of the teachings therein. Violence of the kind they perpetrated is not the way to express outrage. There are more civilized ways of doing it, as indeed others so outraged did, by taking out huge non-violent processions and making their feelings known.
It is to be hoped that the authorities in Afghanistan will take the strictest possible action against perpetrators of the atrocity and their inciters, and that the relevant authorities in the US will take suitable action against the pastor and those in his congregation who aided and abetted him.
In the meantime, it would be fitting for responsible leaders in the faith community, specially those of the Islamic and Christian faiths, to condemn both, the burning of the Quran and the violent reaction to it.
Often one hears the question "Where is the voice of moderate Muslims" whenever a particularly atrocious deed is done by some group acting in the name of Islam. In this case, it would be appropriate to ask, "Where is the voice of moderate Christians" with regards to pastor Terry Jones burning the Quran.