Quran-burning pastor, Terry Jones, still coming to mosque
DEARBORN — Pastor Terry Jones preaches the Gospel for a living, but the second holiest day in Christianity just slipped his mind.
The Quran-burning provocateur, who is expected to protest in Dearborn next week, said he didn’t realize before he committed to coming here that the protest is planned for Good Friday.
“This might be hard to believe,” Jones said, “but honestly we didn’t realize (it was Good Friday) or that Sunday was Easter.”
Oversight now recognized, Jones said he still plans on coming and that he would be traveling with about five associates for the protest, which tentatively is planned for outside the Islamic Center of America. The location, he said, was chosen because of its symbolism as one of the largest mosques in North America.
The protest originally was organized by a Port Huron militia group known as “Order of the Dragon,” but has very much become the Terry Jones-show since he announced his intention to join.
Asked whether he thinks Dearborn’s Muslim community is jihadist or wants to institute Sharia – Islamic law similar to Christianity’s Canon law – Jones said he is uncertain.
“I don’t know Dearborn’s Muslims so I can’t say,” said Jones, who acknowledges never having read the Quran. “But when you see what’s happening in Europe in Muslim-dominated countries, it wouldn’t surprise (me).”
Jones has said in press statements about the protest that he has no problem with Muslims or Islam; rather the extremist interpretation terrorist groups have embraced. He does, however, say he disagrees with Sharia, saying, “it discriminates against women.”
Jones’ small Gainesville, Florida-based church, Dove World Outreach Center, gained notoriety last fall for widely condemned plans to burn Qurans on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Facing pressure to cancel the event coming from as high up as President Barack Obama, the plan was scrapped. But in late March Jones put the Quran “on trial.”
With his congregants as jury, the holiest book in Islam was found guilty and the sentence was burning.
While the media largely ignored the event, Jones and others released videos of the burning online. The imagery sparked widespread violence against Western forces in Afghanistan and numerous death threats against Jones, including a $2.4 million bounty issued by the Lebanese paramilitary group Hezbollah, which is designated a terrorist organization by the United States government.
“We get the threats and we pass them along to the FBI,” he said.
As for the violence Jones’ stunt precipitated, he said he doesn’t bear responsibility.
“Yes, we were warned,” he said of the exhortations against burning the Quran for fear it might provoke violence.
“But there is no excuse for what happened in Afghanistan, and we do not believe we are responsible. People are responsible for their own actions. If anything this proves there is a radical element to Islam.”
Jones is aware his trip to Dearborn is being met mostly with opposition. Interfaith leaders from across Metropolitan Detroit have criticized his plans and at least six groups have formally requested permits for counterdemonstrations, Police Chief Ronald Haddad said.
“We know there will probably be a lot more people there against us than for us,” said Jones, who was unsure how many more people would join him aside from the group he is traveling with.
Also still unclear is whether the protest will even be granted the necessary permit. Haddad, who is responsible for determining whether a demonstration permit is granted or not, previously said he hoped to have a decision by Friday. But because of the numerous counter-protest permit requests and other new, undisclosed developments related to the event, Haddad said he now hopes to have his decision by early next week.
“There are some late developments that we need to take into consideration,” said Haddad. “My primary concern is security and making sure everyone is safe.”
Undoubtedly playing into Haddad’s decision is that Altar Road, where the Islamic Center is located, will be bustling with activity that day. In addition to the mosque, Altar Road is home to several Christian churches that will be holding Good Friday services.
J. Patrick Pepper covers public safety and politics in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights as well as Dearborn government affairs. He can be reached at (734) 246-2702 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Original post: Quran-burning pastor still coming to mosque