You are hereNYT: Pastor Who Burned Koran Demands Retribution

NYT: Pastor Who Burned Koran Demands Retribution


April 1, 2011- Before a Koran was burned at his modest church here on March 20, the pastor Terry Jones held a self-styled mock trial of the holy book in which he presided from the pulpit as judge. The prosecutor was a Christian who had converted from Islam. An imam from Dallas defended the Koran.

Sitting in judgment was a jury of 12 members of Mr. Jones’s church, the Dove World Outreach Center. After listening to arguments from both sides, the jury pronounced the Koran guilty of five “crimes against humanity,” including the promotion of terrorist acts and “the death, rape and torture of people worldwide whose only crime is not being of the Islamic faith.”

Punishment was determined by the results of an online poll. Besides burning, the options included shredding, drowning and facing a firing squad. Mr. Jones, a nondenominational evangelical pastor, said voters had chosen to set fire to the book, according to a video of the proceedings.

Mr. Jones said in an interview with Agence France-Presse on Friday that he was “devastated” by the killings of 12 people in a violent protest in Afghanistan when a mob, enraged by the burning of a Koran by Mr. Jones’s church, attacked the United Nations compound in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. “We don’t feel responsible for that,” he told the news service.

Unlike the worldwide outcry that greeted the pastor’s plan to burn 200 copies of the Koran on Sept. 11 — which he ultimately abandoned — the event last week at the 50-member church was largely ignored by the news media. As of 2 p.m. on Friday, the video of the Koran’s burning on the church Web site had been viewed only 1,500 times.

“The local strategy of everybody was to ignore this,” said the Rev. Lawrence D. Reimer, pastor of the United Church of Gainesville. “It’s just a horrible tragedy that this act triggered the deaths of more innocent people.”

Some church members were surprised by the violent reaction in Afghanistan on Friday, said Fran Ingram, an assistant at the church. She explained that it was decided in the weeks leading up to the burning that a jury of churchgoers and volunteers would hear both sides before deciding what to do.

In a statement, Mr. Jones demanded that the United States and United Nations take “immediate action” against Muslim nations in retaliation for the deaths. “The time has come to hold Islam accountable,” he said.

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