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Excerpt: "Law enforcement arrested a Florida pastor Wednesday as he drove to a park to light nearly 3,000 Qurans on fire to protest the 2001 terrorist attacks."

Polk County Sheriff's deputies escort Terry Jones (C) to a waiting patrol car in Lakeland, Florida, Sept.11, 2013. (photo: Brian Blanco/EPA)
Polk County Sheriff's deputies escort Terry Jones (C) to a waiting patrol car in Lakeland, Florida, Sept.11, 2013. (photo: Brian Blanco/EPA)

Florida Pastor Arrested Before He Could Burn 2,998 Qurans on 9/11 Anniversary

By Associated Press

12 September 13


aw enforcement arrested a Florida pastor Wednesday as he drove to a park to light nearly 3,000 Qurans on fire to protest the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Polk County sheriff's deputies arrested Pastor Terry Jones, 61, and his associate pastor, Marvin Sapp Jr., 34, on felony charges as he drove a pickup truck towing a large barbecue-style grill filled with Qurans soaked in kerosene. He had said he was heading to a nearby park to burn 2,998 Qurans - one for every victim of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Sheriff's officials said they would hold a news conference later Wednesday to discuss specific charges.

Mulberry's mayor, along with area elected officials, a sheriff's deputy and several Polk County residents have talked about the need to express love and tolerance for all faiths on Sept. 11.

Jones is the pastor of a small evangelical Christian church. He first gained attention in 2010 when he planned to burn a Quran on 9/11, although he eventually called it off. His congregation did burn the Muslim holy book in March 2011 and last year he promoted an anti-Muslim film. All three incidents sparked violence in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

The most violent protest happened after the 2011 Quran burning as hundreds of protesters stormed a U.N. compound in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, killing seven foreigners, including four Nepalese guards.

Jones has repeatedly ignored pleas from the U.S. military asking him not to stage his protests. Military officials say his actions put American and Western troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere in danger.

Mulberry is a town of about 3,000 between Orlando and Tampa and has no connection to Jones' church, which recently moved out of its Gainesville building.

An Egyptian court convicted Jones, along with seven Egyptian Coptic Christians in absentia, sentencing them to death on charges linked to the film. The ruling was seen as largely symbolic because Jones and the other defendants live outside of Egypt.

Just last week, a federal judge in Michigan issued a summary judgment in favor of Jones and his organization, Stand Up America Now, against the city of Dearborn for requiring Jones and his organization to sign a city-issued agreement in order to speak on public property in front of a Dearborn mosque in 2012.

Earlier Wednesday, about 75 people gathered In Mulberry for an interfaith prayer service to counter Jones' actions.

Mike Ghouse, who has organized a 9/11 prayer service in his home state of Texas for nine years, brought his event to Mulberry because of Jones' planned Quran burning. He initially had planned to hold the service in Texas but teamed with a group of Mulberry residents who had organized an anti-Jones Facebook page.

"Everyone has a right to believe what they believe," said Ghouse, adding that it was Jones' right as an American to express himself. Others said that while Jones was free to say or do whatever he wanted, the people of Mulberry didn't want the world to think that the residents condone or agree with Jones' views.

"We don't buy what Jones is selling," said Polk County resident Butch Rahman. your social media marketing partner


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+22 # WFBrenner 2013-09-12 09:16
Is there something in the air in Florida that keeps producing nut cases like this guy? Or do weirdos from throughout the rest of the country move to Florida more than any other state?
+19 # rivervalley 2013-09-12 09:41
The Government should buy him a plane ticket to Syria (Or Iran or Iraq) along with 2998 copies of the book and send him on his way with a can of kero and a lighter.
+7 # jayjay 2013-09-12 09:54
While the a--hole's intended action is vile, it would have been helpful if the arrest on a felony charge was more fully explained. What felony activity was he charged with? Illegal intent to barbecue?
+6 # Malcolm 2013-09-12 10:14
What an idiot!

I can't imagine, though, what crime he was about to commit other than, perhaps, air pollution violations.
+4 # Kootenay Coyote 2013-09-13 08:34
How about fomenting hatred?
-14 # stannadel 2013-09-12 10:17
So much for the 1st amendment, it seems it doesn't apply in Mulberry FL.
+13 # dkonstruction 2013-09-12 13:22
Quoting stannadel:
So much for the 1st amendment, it seems it doesn't apply in Mulberry FL.

The cops told him he could come to the park and make any statement he wanted but instead he chose to want to come with (the story I heard said) 500 or 1000 Korans soaked in lighter fluid and wanted to essentially start a bonfire in a public's a fire hazard if nothing, this is not about "free speech" no matter how much you are trying to make it seem so.
+3 # RLF 2013-09-12 10:19
Ugg! Seems like it is his right to do this but what an idiot! It will be the ACLU suing for him and defending him like they did the KKK marches...admir able but deplorable idiocy underneath the act.
+4 # Billy Bob 2013-09-12 11:21
Perhaps we could consider incendiary actions meant to intimidate people based on religious prejudice a hate crime, or a "pre-hate crime".

We don't have any laws like that, but if we did, we could legally condemn vile acts such as this, without making laws up on the spot to avoid retribution.
+4 # jwb110 2013-09-12 11:22
Once again, it is Florida! Freedom of Religion should be re-written as Freedom from Religion. The end of days lunatic fringe doesn't care one wit about the rest of the planet who get along just fine. They will do absolutely anything to create a war to end the world.
As for the First Amendment issue, we are at war and there is such a thing as the Alien and Sedition Act. And who the hell gets protection for yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. Not from me!
+9 # skipb48 2013-09-12 12:06
Technically, we are not a war as Congress has not passed a declaration of war. Also, the Alien and Sedition Act expired in 1801.

As for the the 1st Amendment, as with all the the Bill of Rights Amendments they state that the government can not interfere with an individuals rights. But that is only as long as the exercise of the right does not substantially interfere with the rights of others. Creating a huge bonfire in a public park could destroy public property and put other people's safety at risk. Reason enough to stop the demonstration.
+2 # Kootenay Coyote 2013-09-13 08:36
"...the Alien and Sedition Act expired in 1801."

That didn't stop appeals to the various Acts being used in the 1920's
+11 # humanmancalvin 2013-09-12 11:23
The Faux-Christian Right is the one & same that was produced & directed by the Radical Right Insurgency AKA the Republican Party. The Rights leaders such as Limbaugh & Beck, Hannity & the rest of the multimillion dollar political entertainers posing as experts in a field that has made an audience out of fools like this Faux-Pastor.
This mans ignorant action could if performed be a death sentence for Americans in Muslim countries. This obviously does not bother this tool as the military asked him to back off & of course the publicity seeker refused.
Yes Righties, you created people like this when you co-opted Christianity in the warped form that one would not find in any Bible that I have ever read.
+8 # HenryS1 2013-09-12 11:30
Not sure about a felony, but burning a huge amount of paper using kerosene in a park might very well run afoul of park regulations, at least to a level of misdemeanor. But since laws can easily be ignored through selective enforcement, I'm glad that this action took place and hope that a valid legal argument can be manufactured to justify it.
+6 # Lgfoot 2013-09-12 12:46
A truck full of kerosene soaked books is clearly an "incendiary device" of whopping proportions, if not explosive. He's lucky if they don't render him as a domestic terrorist.
+1 # CAMUS1111 2013-09-12 12:53
He hasn't aged well since his Monty Python days
+3 # Billy Bob 2013-09-12 17:53
His real crime is having the same name as one of the Pythons. I don't like taking the REAL Terry Jones' name in vain.
+4 # Citizen Mike 2013-09-12 13:35
This guy is incompetent, so let's let him do it in the hopes he will ignite himself! is there any law against letting a dingbat play with matches?
+2 # hammermann 2013-09-12 14:19
Anybody think that just soaking those Korans in kerosene might set off the fanatics. That's got to be desecration of some sort- they aren't even supposed to touch the ground without being destroyed (according to my source for all things Muslim- Homeland).
+3 # AUCHMANNOCH 2013-09-12 21:31
Jayjay - don't you have 'Hate Crime' laws in the U.S.A.?
The hate speech laws in Australia give redress to someone who is the victim of discrimination, vilification, or injury on grounds that differ from one jurisdiction to another. All Australian jurisdictions give redress when a person is victimised on account of race. Some jurisdictions give redress when a person is victimised on account of colour, ethnic origin, religion, disability, or sexual orientation.

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