Posted by News Express | 12 September 2013 | 3,714 times
A US cleric who caused global consternation three years ago with plans to burn copies of the Koran has been arrested in Florida towing a large grill and 3,000 copies of the holy books soaked in paraffin.
Terry Jones has pulled similar stunts around the time of previous 9/11 anniversaries. The 61-year-old had announced he planned to burn the books at a park in Tampa Bay, on Florida’s west coast.
It was Pastor Jones, of Dove Outreach Centre in Gainesville, Florida, who planned an “International Burn-a-Koran Day” for 11 September 2010, but called it of after wide condemnation
General David Petraeus, the then US commander in Afghanistan, had to speak with the country’s President Hamid Karzai about it and a crowd of hundreds – mostly students – demonstrated and chanted “Death to America.”
At the time, he sparked calls of restraint from the White House and the Vatican, and Foreign Secretary William Hague called the plan “selfish and provocative in the extreme”.
Yesterday, Pastor Jones and his colleague Marvin Sapp Jr were detained after being pulled over in a pickup truck. They were towing the grill and the books, and had extra fuel bottles inside.
They had bought 2,998 Korans – one for each of the victims of the attacks 12 years ago, when al-Qa’ida militants crashed jumbo jets into New York’s World Trade Centre, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania.
According to local police, both were charged with transporting fuel illegally and Mr Jones was further charged with openly carrying a firearm.
Jones had announced the burning on Facebook, and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said police had warned him beforehand that he would be breaking the law.
Sheriff Judd said: “We not only told him that he had a first amendment right to free speech. We encouraged him to come to that park if he wanted to make any statements that he wanted. But he was not going to come to Polk County and violate the law.”
•Credit: Text, The Independent, UK; Photo of Pastor Terry Jones under arrest, Washington Post.
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