A priest from a church based in Florida, USA, claimed that the church and its parishioners would defy international condemnation and burn copies of the Holy Koran, marking the anniversary of the tragic September 11. The church pastor and organizer of “Burn A Koran Day”, Terry Jones, said that he understood the public concern after the news had been released on Twitter. Also, he stated that this would send a clear message to the radical element of Islam – “We will no longer be controlled and dominated by fear and threat.”
The simple tweet that sent an alarm all across social media would not have received that reaction if it had not been for the heated debate all across the US over a proposal to build a mosque and Islamic cultural centre near Ground Zero, the site of September 11 attacks in New York. Local as well as international news agencies covered diligently “Burn a Koran Day” to become a global issue. Both top US commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus and US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, condemned the plans to burn Koran on that memorable date.
Within a 7-day period, September 6 – 12, SocialEyez detected 76,350 comments and conversations related to the issue. On September 9, two days prior to the scheduled bonfire of Koran, the buzz volume reached its peak with 24,858 results.
Lion’s share of the results was generated by US citizens as the research clearly indicated that the “Burn A Koran Day”-issue was indeed a global subject for discussion. Meanwhile, over 1,000 discussions were identified to be originated from the Middle East and nearly the same volume was captured from Indonesia and Malaysia.
Sentiment of social media mentions
Approximately half of the total volume was opinions that were negative in nature as users were disgusted by the plans of Terry Jones and his congregation Dove World Outreach Center. Conversations moved on to the safety of the US army forces in places like Afghanistan as users claim that such an event would put the lives of many stationed in such sensitive regions in danger. Many posts suggested that the pastor and his congregation should spread messages of peace and respect towards other religions and their holy books.
An estimated 49% of the conversations were neutral. Users posted various news articles and shared the news across social media. Few users added short abstracts of these news articles to their private blogs and encouraged the public to share their opinions. Often, social media users referred to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution highlighting the freedom of speech.
The remaining 0.03% of the comments was identified as positive opinions towards burning of the Koran. Some users said that it had to take place to save the freedom of speech in the US and others shared the same sentiment of Pastor Terry Jones towards Islam.
Within the total volume of 76,350 results, microblogs generated the highest level of buzz online. Twitter was the main social media platform used to share opinions and views on the subject. Twitter was followed by online discussions that took place on news websites and other social networks like Facebook.
Dennis Frieß & Yannick Dischinger
Social Media Analysts @ SocialEyez