SUZIE SCHOTTELKOTTE THE LEDGER
MULBERRY | It’s not the sprawling Unity Church of Dallas, but Mike Ghouse said Monday he’s pleased to stage his group’s annual Unity Day ceremony Sept. 11 at the less imposing Mulberry Civic Center.
“This is where we need to be,” he said. “We are going to show the world that this is how we do it.”
Ghouse, president of the Dallas-based World Muslim Congress, is bringing his group’s annual ceremony to Mulberry to counter a Florida minister’s plan to burn 2,998 Qurans at a Mulberry resident’s home a few miles away. Ghouse traveled to Mulberry on Monday to scout locations for the peaceful ceremony and to meet with others who oppose Pastor Terry Jones’ protest.
City Manager Rick Johnson said the city has no reason not to rent the Mulberry Civic Center to the Muslim-based group, but said he hopes ongoing construction at the center won’t pose a problem.
The city has been battling water intrusion in the basement, and tests are underway now to determine how the water is seeping in.
“We’ve been taking reservations for the civic center through January, and this one is no different,” Johnson said.
“There just may be some work going on, and the building may not look very good.”
Ghouse estimated the ceremony could draw 100 participants. The civic center can accommodate 180 people.
The program at the Dallas church, in contrast, has attracted as many as 500 participants, Ghouse said
He said the ceremony will promote unity among all faiths and peaceful resolution to conflict.
Suzanne Carter-Moore said she’s glad to see Ghouse in Mulberry.
Soon after Jones announced his plans to burn 2,998 Qurans at a home near Mulberry — one for every American who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — she’s been on a crusade to counter the demonstration.
“We don’t want to stand for radicalism, regardless of where it comes from,” she said.
Her high school friend, Lynn Weatherholtz Broom, has joined her in organizing an effort against Jones’ protest, and now a 17-year-old George Jenkins High School senior, Curtis Rahman, is taking up their cause as well.
“My brother was just deployed to Afghanistan,” he said. “I’m standing up for what I believe in.”
Since Carter-Moore initiated a Facebook page called Not In Mulberry Terry Jones, 400 people have indicated they support the effort.
Ghouse announced last week that the World Muslim Congress is moving the one-day event to Mulberry.
Jones said last week he welcomed the event, which he said won’t interfere with his plans to burn 2,998 Qurans at the home of Bill McKinney off Shepherd Road.
Jones said McKinney offered his home for the event after Jones sold his church and property, the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, earlier this summer.
Jones said he’s anticipating about 20 to 50 supporters will attend the burning.