Muslim Group Will Protest Mulberry Quran Burning

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Pastor Terry Jones has announced intentions to burn holy book.

Published: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 4:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 4:31 p.m.
MULBERRY | At the same time a Florida pastor is making plans to burn 2,998 Qurans in protest Sept. 11 at a home near Mulberry, members of the Dallas-based World Muslim Congress are planning a counter demonstration of their own nearby.
Mike Ghouse, the organization’s president, said Tuesday he hopeshis group’s peaceful gathering in Mulberry will stand in contrast to Terry Jones’ burning of the Muslim holy book.
“Everybody in the world is going to be watching what happens in Mulberry,” he said. “We want them to know violence is not a behavior that will be tolerated.”
Jones said Tuesday he has no problem with the Muslim gathering.
“We see them as two separate events, and not in contradiction with each other,” he said. “Our event is targeted toward the radical element of Islam, where people are put to death because they have converted from Islam to Christianity.”
Ghouse said the focus of his group’s event will be peaceful prayer.
The Muslim group will hold its annual Unity Day ceremony in Mulberry on Sept. 11, the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States. The ceremony, celebrating unity among different faiths, has been held in Dallas since the 2001 attacks.
“We will pray for (Jones) while he burns the Quran,” Ghouse said.
He said he’s planning to visit Mulberry next week to seek out a public site for his gathering.
“We usually have about 500 people of all denominations at the ceremony in Dallas,” he said. “I don’t expect that many people to come to Mulberry, but we’re hoping people from the community will turn out.”
A separate group of residents in Mulberry already is planning its own protest to the anticipated burning. Suzanne Carter-Moore, a Lakeland resident who grew up in Mulberry and works there now, initiated a local effort after learning of Jones’ plans in July.
“I just don’t want Mulberry to appear like we are condoning his actions,” she told The Ledger last week.
Jones said Tuesday his plans to burn the Qurans on Sept. 11 remain on track. He said he intends to burn a holy book for every American who died in those attacks.
He said he chose the Mulberry area after a resident, Bill McKinney, offered his property off Shepherd Road for the event. Jones has sold the Gainesville property where his church, Dove World Outreach Center, was the setting for a similar burning in 2011 that sparked deadly riots in Afghanistan. That left him without a venue for his protest.
Jones said he’s expecting about 20 to 50 supporters to join his effort next month.
“Some people are afraid to come out,” he said. “We’ve been getting death threats.”
Both Jones and Ghouse said Tuesday they respect each other’s right to freedom of speech.
“We have no problem with them having a Unity Day,” Jones said. “We desire to live under the Constitution, and not try to change or alter it.”
Ghouse said public expression should be done peacefully.
“This is a very good way to communicate to Muslims around the world that this is the Muslim behavior,” he said. “Violence is not.”
[ Suzie Schottelkotte can be reached or 863-533-9070. ]

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