The leader of a small church in Florida said he was still praying about whether to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11, a plan the White House, religious leaders and others are pressuring him to call off.
The Rev. Terry Jones said he has received more than 100 death threats and has started wearing a .40-caliber pistol strapped to his hip but still did not back off his plan on Tuesday to burn the Holy book.
The 58-year-old minister said the death threats started not long after he proclaimed in July that he would stage “International Burn-a-Quran Day.”
Supporters, though, have been mailing copies of the holy text to his church of about 50 followers to be incinerated in a bonfire on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Gen. David Petraeus took the rare step of a military leader taking a position on a domestic matter when he warned that “images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan – and around the world – to inflame public opinion and incite violence.”
Jones responded that he is also concerned but is “wondering, ‘When do we stop?”‘ He refused to cancel the protest at his Dove World Outreach Center but said he was still praying about it.
“How much do we back down? How many times do we back down?” Jones said. “Instead of us backing down, maybe it’s time to stand up. Maybe it’s time to send a message to radical Islam that we will not tolerate their behaviour.”
The fire department has denied Jones a required burn permit, but he said lawyers have told him he has the right to burn the Qurans, with or without the city’s permission.