Rev. Terry Jones, who heads up a small Florida church, intends to follow through on his plan to burn the Qur’an on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Top White House officials have called on Rev. Terry Jones to call off the event he calls “International Burn-a-Koran Day”. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has reportedly described the reverend’s plan as idiotic and dangerous.
Military leaders have warned that burning the Muslim holy book could have serious consequences that could put the lives of American soldiers at risk. Gen. David Petraeus said the offensive act could be used by extremists in Afghanistan and “around the world – to inflame public opinion and incite violence.”
Gen. Ray Odierno, the former top commander of American operations in Iraq, expressed similar concern.
Canada joined in the worldwide criticisms on Wednesday, with Defence Minister Peter MacKay calling the plan “insulting to Muslims and Canadians of all faiths.”
Jones leads a small church called the Dove World Outreach Center comprised of 50 or so members in Gainesville, Fla.
Religious leaders in the community have spoken out against the planned Qur’an burning and local Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders are holding inclusive interfaith events. A student protest is also planned.
Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe declared Sept. 11 Interfaith Solidarity Day. Jones targeted Lowe during his mayoral campaign because the politician is gay.
While many consider Jones’ plan odious, it will likely be protected under the First Amendment. The American Supreme Court has made several rulings that offensive speech can’t be suppressed unless it’s clearly aimed at intimidating someone or is meant to incite violence.
The controversy over the burning comes as debate continues over a proposed Islamic centre near the World Trade Center site in New York City.
With files from the Associated Press and The Canadian Press.