• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Pastor determined to hold 9/11 Koran burning

September 8, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The leader of a small Florida church who has sparked worldwide outrage says he's determined to go through with his plan to burn copies of the Koran on Sept. 11.Pastor Terry Jones, leader of the 50-member Dove World Outreach Center, said the so-called "Burn a Koran Day" is to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The plan has sparked a global controversy.

"It doesn't in any way represent America or Americans or American government or American religious or political leadership," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Even a warning from Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, has not not swayed Jones.

"It puts our soldiers at jeopardy very likely," Petraeus said.

In fact, Jones said at a press conference that he has received a lot of encouragement for his protest, with supporters mailing copies of the Islamic holy text to his church.

"I think Jesus would not run around burning books, but I think he would burn this one," Jones said.

Jones gained some local notoriety last year when he posted signs in front of his church declaring "Islam is of the Devil." But his Koran-burning idea attracted wider attention. It drew rebukes from Muslim nations and at home as an emotional debate was taking shape over the proposed Islamic center near the ground zero site of the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York.

His actions likely would be protected by the First Amendment's right to free speech. The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that speech deemed offensive to many people, even the majority of people, cannot be suppressed by the government unless it is clearly directed to intimidate someone or amounts to an incitement to violence, legal experts said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Do you want the Eyewitness News team to call you? Get a FREE Morning Wake-up Call and personalized weather report at abc7.com/wakeup


Load Comments