By Michelle Boorstein
Did you really think Florida Pastor Terry Jones was just going to vanish from your life?
Six months after the minister of a tiny Gainesville church drew the world’s attention with his threats to burn the Koran, Jones is resurfacing with a slightly more subtle proposal. Jones and his Dove World Outreach Center (this is a place with a few dozen regular members, just to be clear) are now planning an “International Judge the Koran Day” for March 11, when he – according to a youtube clip of the tall, handlebar-moustached minister – will hold a mock trial, complete with defense and prosecuting attorneys, witnesses and a verdict on the Koran.
“We are accusing the Koran of murder, rape, deception and being responsible for terrorist activities all around the world,” he says in the clip, in which he sports a T-shirt, black leather coat and booming voice. “Here’s your opportunity, all you so-called peaceful Muslims … mail us, call us, present to us your defense attorney.”
Jones’ plan to commemorate the Sept. 11 attacks by burning Islam’s holy book set off what many saw as an outsized reaction last fall, with everyone from Hillary Clinton to David Petraeus taking to the airwaves to say he was endangering American soldiers and dangerously inflaming debate about religious pluralism. Reporters from around the world (yes, including yours truly) camped out on Dove’s huge lawn in the baking sun.
Jones cancelled the scripture-burning as part of what he said was an effort to strike a let’s cancel-our-controversial-projects deal with the Manhattan imam who is hoping to build a major Muslim community center near Ground Zero. The whole weird standoff vanished amid all the annual Sept. 11 commemorations and a generally tense year in American discussions about Islam.
But Jones is apparently still open to the idea of burning the Koran. The site for his event allows people to vote on what should happen to the Koran if it is “found guilty,” and options include burning, shredding and drowning. After all, this someone whose Web site sells coffee mugs that say “Islam is of the devil.”
Many people felt Jones’ theology and threats were over-blown by U.S. officials and over-covered by us in the media. We’ll see what happens this time.