You are hereWashington Post: Florida pastor Terry Jones’s Koran burning has far-reaching effect

Washington Post: Florida pastor Terry Jones’s Koran burning has far-reaching effect


April 2, 2011- The charred Koran that inspired a deadly attack and violent protests across Afghanistan now sits in a plastic Home Depot bag in a storage room here in a run-down church. It has been stashed atop a pile of cardboard boxes, next to a tattered pair of boxing gloves. It still smells of kerosene.

The Rev. Terry Jones had threatened to burn the text in September, in the midst of a controversy over plans to develop an Islamic center near the site of the September 2001 terrorist attacks in Manhattan. He was eventually dissuaded through the pleas of religious leaders and government officials, including a phone call from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

But when Jones announced in January that he was going to “put the Koran on trial,” he said he didn’t hear a single complaint. On March 20, Jones dressed in a judicial robe and ordered a copy of the Koran to be torched in a portable fire pit.

“It’s like people forgot about us,” Jones said Saturday. “But we kept doing what we do.”

The world was reminded of the 30-person Christian congregation at Dove World Outreach Center on Friday, when a mob incited by the burning of the Koran attacked a U.N. compound in Mazar-e Sharif, killing seven U.N. employees. On Saturday, related protests in Kandahar left nine dead and more than 90 injured.

Jones, 59, had considered the possibility that burning the text might elicit a violent response and that innocent people might be killed. In his characteristic drawl — a slow-motion delivery that seems incongruous with the church’s fiery rhetoric — the pastor said the church also debated whether to shred the book, shoot it or dunk it in water instead of burning it.

He has been accused by those who intervened in September of breaking his promise not to burn the Koran — a point he concedes. “If you want to be technical,” he said, “I guess we broke our word.”

He added, “We thought twice about it.”

But in the end, his desire to shed light on what he calls a “dangerous book” won out. The Koran was burned in a spectacle streamed live on the Internet. To reach out to Muslims overseas, Jones included Arabic subtitles.

“For some of them,” he said, “it could be an awakening.”

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