Terry Jones, the controversial Floridian pastor, was arrested on Wednesday.
Jones was driving a pick up truck with kerosene-soaked Qur’ans in the back. He planned to burn 2,998 Qur’ans, one for every victim of 9/11. Jones planned to do it in a park but was arrested for unlawfully transporting fuel.
The non-denominational pastor had previously been denied a permit to do this from Polk County. The Polk County Sherriff’s Office also arrested him for openly carrying a firearm.
According to NPR, Sherriff Grady Judd said Jones had been stopped, initially, because he was driving a car without a license plate. That and with the kerosene in the back, Judd said Jones was driving a “bomb” down the road.
Eastern Michigan University graduate student Rachel Lewandowski felt strongly about his actions.
“I believe in religious equality, and I think something like burning Qur’ans in a large oiled rum is despicable,” Lewandowski said. “I think that’s disrespectful of people who are of the Islamic faith.”
But not everyone feels that way at EMU. A sophomore, who wished to remain anonymous, said otherwise.
“I feel like nowadays that that’s not necessarily a crime. It’s just another way for law enforcement to keep a hold of people.”
EMU graduate Omar Tibi is a Muslim and said he wonders if Jones knows that the proper way to dispose of a Qur’an once it’s no longer usable is to burn it.
“Personally, I think it’s disgraceful,” Tibi said. “No truly religious person, especially no Muslim, would disrespect another’s religion in that way. However, I am in doubt as to whether he was actually motivated by bigotry or whether he wanted his 15 minutes of fame.”
William Bullard, going for his second bachelor’s degree said he was glad Jones was arrested.
“I hope they didn’t just try to arrest him,” he said. “He’s going to have freedom of speech issues to bring up. What he’s doing was causing horrible problems. I don’t believe someone’s speech should be impaired, but he went beyond what was allowable.”
Jones has a reputation for causing problems all around the world. He rose to infamy two years ago for his self-titled event, “Burn a Qur’ran day.” Although that event was cancelled due to an angry public backlash, it resulted in protests across the Middle East and caused a nightmare for the Obama administration.
Jones is the pastor for the very small, non-denominational Dove World Outreach Center. He also attempted to protest the Islamic Center of America in April 2011 but was held up in court. Jones also ran for president as an independent in the last election.
There is no word yet on whether or when Jones will be brought to trial.
EMU’s Muslim Student Association was contacted, but they declined to comment.
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