The Iranian Foreign Ministry has condemned the burning of the Quran by Terry Jones, an American pastor in Florida, and described it as “offensive” and disrespectful to the Muslim world.

A statement by the Foreign Ministry said: “The Islamic Republic of Iran strongly condemns this ridiculous, insulting and provocative act by a so-called U.S. pastor in overt contempt of the holy Quran."

On Saturday, the controversial American pastor burned copies of the Quran and images of the Muslim prophet to protest against the incarceration of Iranian priest Yousef Nadarkhani.

Nadarkhani, 33, who converted to Christianity at the age of 19, formed a congregation in Rasht in northern Iran. The Islamic Republic does not recognize conversion from Islam, which is considered an offence punishable by death.
Nadarkhani’s death sentence has not been approved yet, and he remains in a legal state of limbo in prison.

The Daily Mail reports that the Pentagon had urged the American priest to reconsider his decision as it could provoke retaliation against U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

In its announcement, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said the international community expects the U.S. government to respond immediately and firmly to the offensive act. The Ministry demanded that the U.S. take actions to prevent such “cultural crimes” from ever happening again.

Mohabbat News, a website that covers news about Iranian Christians in Iran, says the “dogmatic actions of Terry Jones, while creating tensions, also create an opportunity for extremists and fundamentalist Islamic groups as well as the Islamic Republic.”