We all go through these small-scale personal ceremonies on days like September 11. You might light some candles or call up a buddy whose brother died when the towers tumbled.
Terry Jones, the riot-inducing Florida pastor with the 19th-century facial hair and ninth-century sense of religious conviction? He loves to burn Qur'ans, and the Gainesville resident had a big ol' spectacle planned yesterday. Luckily, police stepped in.
Jones and another pastor were pulled over driving a pickup towing a barbecue grill loaded with 2,889 gasoline-soaked Qur'ans, -- one for each victim of the 9/11 attacks. Polk County sheriff's deputies hauled the 61-year-old and cohort off on charges of unlawful conveyance of fuel (a felony), having no registration for the trailer, and an unlawful open-carry of a firearm, the AP reports.
Jones was driving the grill over to the Loyce E. Harpe Park public park in Mulberry for the burn when he was stopped. The event had been publicized on the Facebook page for Jones' group, Stand Up America (578 going, 200 maybes, 6,196 invited).
"The radical hand of Islam shows itself with violence against anyone who dares to stand up and speak the truth," Jones wrote on his Facebook invite. "We at Stand Up America Now will not back down. We will not be silent."
Of course, burning Qur'ans is Jones' wheelhouse. You probably first heard the name when he announced in 2010 he was going to torch Islam's holy book on the 9/11 anniversary. Despite pleas from government officials, Jones tossed the match. In 2011, he not only again burned Qur'ans but spread the controversial Innocence of Muslims movie. Both events kicked up deadly anti-American riots in Egypt, Libya, and Afghanistan.
Hoping to avoid a repeat of that overseas violence, this week the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East personally called Jones about stopping the burn. The pastor basically told him to go pound salt; the burn is on.
"I understand the concerns of the military," Jones told the Tampa Tribune, "but the people being killed and massacred every day have no one to speak up for them. They are not trained. They are not financed. No disrespect meant, but people are trying to stand up."