The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

‘Burn a Koran Day’ Pastor Plans New Desecration of Islamic Holy Book

By Leah Nelson on February 7, 2011 - 11:30 am, Posted in Anti-Muslim

Terry Jones, the virulently Islamophobic pastor behind last fall’s barely averted “International Burn a Koran Day,” may have lost a battle or two, but his personal crusade is clearly still on. Having reluctantly canceled plans to burn Islam’s holy book last Sept. 11 – an idea that won him worldwide attention – Jones is now upping the ante with an announcement that Dove World Outreach Center, his Gainesville, Fla.-based church, will host “International Judge the Koran Day” on March 20.

“Here’s your opportunity, all you so-called peaceful Muslims,” he says in a video announcing the event. “We are accusing the Koran of murder, rape, deception, being responsible for terrorist activities all over the world. … Present to us your defense attorney who is going to defend the Koran. Let us really see. We challenge you: do it. Let us not talk. Let us have some action and proof.”

Perhaps hoping to spread the blame if – or rather, when – the Koran is found guilty, Jones has invited the public to vote on the proper form of “execution” via his FaceBook page, “Stand Up America Now.” The four options on offer are burning, drowning, shredding “into little bitty pieces,” or execution by firing squad.

The Southern Poverty Law Center designated Dove World Outreach Center a hate group in 2010.

Jones, who sports a bushy Fu Manchu mustache and a heavy Southern drawl, can at first come across as an almost absurd figure – a hate-spewing pastor with a tiny and shrinking congregation – but despite his prior obscurity, the threat he now poses is all too real. His most notorious PR stunt, last September’s “International Burn a Koran Day,” never happened. But it provoked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. military commander for Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus, then-White House spokesman Robert Gibbs and Pope Benedict XVI to each condemn the plan publicly. News reports around the world about Jones’ plans provoked anti-American rallies and may have led to violence as well. Ultimately, it took a personal phone call from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who warned Jones that he was putting American troops in danger, to persuade the reluctant pastor to cancel his event.

One result of the negative global attention he received was that Jones has been banned from traveling to the United Kingdom, where he was invited by a British anti-Muslim organization last month to speak at a series of anti-Islam events. Explaining the decision to bar him, UK Home Secretary Theresa May said that her office “has the right to exclude people who are not conducive to public good.”

The White House press office had not responded to a Hatewatch request for comment about Jones’ latest exploits as of this morning.

Media-baiting exploits have become something of a staple for Dove World Outreach, whose Islamophobia is matched only by its hatred for the LGBT community. On Sept. 11, 2009, Jones led followers wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Islam is of the Devil” in a march around a mall parking lot. A month later, he and his congregation held at an “anti-gay pride parade” at the same site and at the same time as the Gainesville LGBT Pride Parade. Last March, he put up signs reading “No Homo Mayor” that targeted openly gay Gainesville mayoral candidate Craig Lowe. Despite that, Lowe won handily.

Jones’ determination to trash a Koran this time around takes on a slightly different twist. Instead of burning the book outright, it will instead be put on “trial.”

A “prosecuting attorney” has already been secured, in the person of Muslim-to-Christian convert Ahmad Mustafa Abaza. In an online autobiography, Abaza claimed that God raised him from the dead after his father beat him for converting, and that he was enslaved by an evil sheikh and personally persecuted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak before Abaza escaped from his native land. Abaza also founded TheTruthTV, an Arab-language webpage on which, according to the press release, the “trial” will supposedly be streamed in both English and Arabic.

“Muslims, we challenge you,” Jones says in his video. “Last time y’all had a big mouth. You mouthed off. You continue to mouth off around the world about how peaceful the Koran is. Well, we challenge you. Send us, submit to us, your defense atty. Come on that day, March the 20th, and try to defend the Koran. And we will see.”

So far, the proposed trial has failed to entice: A spokesperson for Dove World Outreach confirmed that no one has offered to act as defense counsel to the Koran.

Perhaps this is because Dove’s World Outreach Center’s past statements about the Koran make it seem unlikely that book is really presumed innocent. In a YouTube video with Jones, Dove World pastor Wayne Sapp said that the Koran “is definitely guilty of atrocities against humanity. It is guilty of murder, rape, slavery. So it deserves its judgment, it deserves its execution. … What do you think, Dr. Jones?”

Said Jones: “I think it deserves it all.”

  • Arsalaan Hamdun

    I feel sorry for the Pastor Jones who decided to burn the Quran. Muslims have memorised Quran and can he kill all the muslims who have memorised Quran ? May Allah (God) take him to the straight path. Time will tell and he will get to know what Quran is !!!!. I As a Muslim am saying “ALLAHUMA DAMIRHU TADIMIRA” !

  • William Carter

    Oh no! Pastor Jones is having an “International Judge the Koran Day” on March 20. He should be stopped the same way he was stopped from having his burning the koran day.

  • John

    Also, Maplethorpe never said Jesus was evil. In fact, he even said he created the art as a way of demonstrating that human society is “peeing” on Jesus…
    Jones has made it clear that he is about hate.
    It’s all in context, friend.

  • John

    To answer one person’s question, the Bible has never been burned…there is no test case…

  • Pat

    And no, not one Muslim has burned a Bible because they find the Bible to be as holy as the Qu’Ran…I do not know where you got that idea…

  • Pat

    Much of the Qu’Ran was actually adapted from the Holy Bible. So, Mr. Jones, if you find the Qu’Ran “guilty,” will you burn the Bible as well?

  • Jordan

    I am agnostic and bias, but I still feel as though I should point out that the Bible and the Koran end the same. Horrible period of chaos, Jesus (Yeshua) returns and becomes (insert monarchial title here) of Earth and rules a thousand year (kingdom/Empire/Reich (where do you think Hitler got the idea?)). Though parts of both books preach peace it is easy for Terry Jones and others like him to find and amplify the violent parts (after all, most religious texts hail from an era when conquering, oppressive empires were the only known form of government). Luckily, there are still those who amplify the peaceful parts.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “I think he has the right to do whatever he wants. Because across the whole world Muslims burn the bible, and American flag. And persecute people of other faiths. If it were up to me I would ban God and all religion since they both don’t exist in my mind.”

    Wow that’s brilliant Rocky. Where do Muslims burn the Bible? You do realize that the Bible contains some texts which are considered sacred by Muslims? Don’t you?

  • legalhound

    It is time for the modern crusade rhetoric to end! We as a nation have a vested interest in decrying all of the Christian re-constructionists every time they start claiming that the US is a Christian Nation. We have more than enough documents from the founding of the country and even before the Revolution to prove that it was never intended to be so.
    There is very good reason that the 1st amendment has 6 freedoms -not 5 in it. It also contains Freedom From Religion in the Establishment Clause. It is supposed to work both ways, Congress cannot make laws establishing religion and established religion cannot vote from the pulpit without losing tax exempt status. Keeping religion out of the government is a great challenge, but the founders understood that it was necessary because they constantly fight with each other! Every religion claims to be exclusive-it’s people are the chosen ones, and every one claims a monopoly on truth. They’ve set themselves up to be the only one and as such have created the need to compete. Even different sects of Christianity do not get along with one another the moment it breaks down to dogma and the nitty gritty of putting your creed into secular law. Why do you think there are so many contentious debates over abortion, end of life care, etc.
    This has to stop. God does not have chosen people! We are all children of God and God would be a much better parent than any of us and would truly love all of us equally. We are not separate from God either because for God to be all powerful God must be all knowing and in order to know all then there must not be anywhere in the universe that God is not. Therefore, we must be part of God, if we were separate in anyway then there would be someplace where God is not and that then means that God would be less than all powerful.

  • Keith Douglas

    His BuyBull can lay claim to the same atrocities, as most know. Not only that, it has been used to justify some of the most heinous crimes over the last 2 millenia. This troll is exhibiting a)attention seeking behavior, b)sociopathic personality disorders, c)ignorance of an rationality, d)poor judgement. This last with the caveat that he seems likely to be one of the yahoos bent on bringing on the ‘end times’ in his time in order to satisfy his damaged ego into feeling important.

  • Coyote

    As Jones is Christian he can first start by burning his own Christian Bible. It is filled to the rim with the same hateful things he is protesting against regarding the Muslims. All the major religions seem to be. Instead of a Christian expecting another religion to “validate” the hate in it’s “holy book” how about him demanding Christians such as himself try and reconcile the hate his own religion has preached for thousands of years. I’d start by trying to find anywhere it preaches against slavery. It doesn’t and there are many quotes in there supporting and advocating it. Use a Bible search engine on the internet and you can see for yourself. It is long past time that all the major religions of the world came clean about what it is that they are actually teaching people and their past actions need serious apologies all the way around. I suggest Pastor Jones start with both the Crusades, and the Spanish explorers”saving” the people indigenous to the “new world” and then killing them immediately afterwards. Pot can call the kettle black all it wants, but they are both still black.
    Apologize for your own religion before you seek others to apologize for theirs.

  • Rocky Louis

    I think he has the right to do whatever he wants. Because across the whole world Muslims burn the bible, and American flag. And persecute people of other faiths. If it were up to me I would ban God and all religion since they both don’t exist in my mind.

  • David

    What’s amatter Terry, not enough publicity lately?

  • Finn

    If the media would quit taking this idiot’s bait, his various stunts would have no more effect on the world than any other lunatic raving on a street corner. Instead, this lunatic with a congregation smaller than my first grade class gets international exposure and provokes commentary at the highest levels of our government. Naturally, like any toddler having a tantrum, he’s going to keep doing it until we ignore him.

  • Solael


    I just want to state, that those that are Christians, know, that when someone burns any of our holy texts or “relics”, then we are not the judge, and we remain quiet (the Lord holds our tongue), so that He can judge those that do, which will be a just judgment. That is what this individual (as he states he is a Christian) should do as well. Yes..thank you God, we have free speech, but there are steps that one should not step, in the protection of this country, for not only is this person listed as a terrorist threat, it is with that threat, that he is a threat to national security. Even though we as a nation would not move to terrorist actions against another for trying to demean any of our faiths (not just Christianity), moves such as these, will warrant the wanting of “death to all Christians” (which still remains in the M.E region). Now, I do not have a problem, dying for God and Jesus Christ, because I would do that in a heart beat, but putting the lives of others, into your mouth, does not make you right. He needs to step down, as a speaker for Christians, for he does not speak for me (or for many other Christians that walk in peace, and allows God to judge for them). If he wants to burn the Qur’an (or speak against it), then he can burn and degrade it, in his own backyard in peace.


  • jness

    Vermont statue (13 V.S.A) § 1456:

    “Any person who intentionally and maliciously sets fire to, or burns, causes to be burned, or aids or procures the burning of a cross or a religious symbol, with the intention of terrorizing or harassing a particular person or persons, shall be subject to a term of imprisonment of not more than two years or a fine of not more than $5,000.00, or both.”

  • Patricia

    Rape, murder, incest, genocide…where have I read that all before??? Oh, right, the Bible! Does this guy even know how to read?

  • Solael

    I am angered at this individual, for he is NOT God, and has no right to judge anyone, especially the Islamic faith. He can NOT save them from the pit, and he can NOT lift them from IT, not can he forgive their sins! Sure, there are many of us, who are Christians, that do not believe in what the Qur’an or other leaders of the Islamic faith believe in or practice, but as a “supposed”, Christian, he is breaking the laws of the Most High God, himself. This individual needs to take the logs (plural), out of his own eyes (by looking in the mirror and judging himself), before he removes the sticks from the eyes of another. This is someone who uses the title of being a Christian, and is not a true faithful, true believing, truly obedient (with Honor), or one who truly relies on and trusts in God only ~ and trying to take matters into his own hands, which always leads to violence. Obama…stop this individual, even if you have to warrant him a “threat to national security”!. He is also someone, that warrants the reasons why those in the Islamic faith, want to kill Christians.

    This individual is not to move towards violence in the Name of Jesus Christ, he is to walk in peace, and carry the cross of Jesus Christ, in His Holy name, for Jesus Christ only.

    As a true believing, faithful, obedient, relying and trusting in God only, (not man), I bind, rebuke, cast out and destroy the hate (demonic activity), that this individual is harboring in his heart, against those of the Islamic faith. As you know, “…what a man speaketh is…”

    Thank you for letting me voice my opinion, and I will speak the Power of God over his life, in removing the mountains that the U.S. are upon, to remove this hatred that this man has, so we can move towards peace! And may God judge this individual justly for his hateful actions against his brethren, for the Lord abhors hate!

    Thank you Poverty Law Center for this article, for I work for the Kingdom of God only, and this incident shall be removed, binded, destroyed, and cast back into the pit, from whence it came!

    Also, give this man a copy of this notation!


  • Victor T

    Books don’t kill people. Religious fundamental extremists do. Perhaps he should look in the mirror to see what hate and religious extremism does. Does he think the Bible is any less to blame for violence and hatred? The Inquisition, The Crusades, continued oppression of non-believers, and it goes on and on. It’s another deperate attempt to get attention and unfortunately it’s working again. Also unfortunately, there are a LOT of people in this country who stand with him.
    Honestly, he should be putting ALL religious books on trial and we’ll see which ones don’t promote everything he says the Koran does. Or perhaps he’s never actually read the Bible.

  • Jordan

    People continue to hold a fundamental misunderstanding of what exactly “free-speech” entails. Free speech means the right to say what you want without getting arested for it, nothing more, nothing less. What it does not do is give people the right to say what they want and expect no consequences. Take this scenario for example: If one were to stand on a street corner and scream profanities for an hour and one’s boss was in hearing range they would have all the right in the world to fire that person the next day because they are not a positive representation of the business (and thus decrease said business’s income and tarnish said business’s image). If a business catches an employee in the act of encouraging descrimination the business has the right to dismiss them and society has the right look down on them. Free speech protects people from government prosecution of their words and non-harmfull actions, not from societies response or opinions. If this hate-filled bigot wants to denounce someone elses religion and destroy their icons he has the right to do so as a United States Citizen. But the SPLC, ACLU and everyone else has the right to call him a hate monger, a Nazi, a Klansman and whatever else we want AND to use our free speech to tell him what we think of him and his hate.

  • CM

    Burning Qurans is not illegal in America, but burning Muslims certainly is. Jones’ attacks are aimed not at the book but at the religion and the people who adhere to it. I don’t hear anyone out there claiming that the Bible should be burned because of its numerous violence-justifying verses or that Christians are all terrorists because Eric Rudolph and Timothy McVeigh called themselves Christians.

    If Jones is really a “minister of the word,” he ought to be spending his time and energy explaining why Christianity is good, not inventing spurious arguments to convince people Islam is bad.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    I believe both those desecrations of Christian symbols occurred a long time ago, so they are less relevant. Plus fundamentalist Muslims would have just as much reason to be angry at people denigrating Jesus, as he is seen as one of the prophets.

  • Ian


    In regards to the Virgin Mary art work, the artist has been explicit in saying that the work is not intended to attack her. In his culture, dung’s position as a fertilizer makes it a source of life. He considers Mary to be a source of life.

    And again, what does this have to do with the First and Fourteenth Amendments?

  • R Lavigueur


    To repeat the above question in case you missed it, Are you arguing that people don’t have a legal right to criticize him? Nobody has yet argued that his speech is unconstitutional, nor does the constitution protect him from criticism based on his expression. I’ve heard lots of Christians complain about those artistic (and this word is key) expressions you mentioned, and for that matter a good number of liberals and atheists have criticised these kinds of exhibits as well.

    Motive, however, is also a factor. Andres Serrano was raised Christian, and described his art involving the crucifix as a critique of the cheapening of Christian icons in contemporary culture. He specifically stated that his attempt was not to denounce religion, in response to the very loud criticism that he did receive. Nor was this Ofili’s goal, as his art primarily criticises sexual and racial stereotypes.

    Now, you’re certainly welcome to find such at tasteless and offensive, many people of all religions do, and these displays both received public condemnation, which is likely why we both know that they exist, but neither of these artists are desecrating sacred symbols as an attack against Christianity. Neither were motivated by hatred against that religious group, as the artists themselves very well might consider themselves part of it.

    Why should the Hatewatch blog report on offensive art if that offensive art lacks deliberate hate? I’m sure many Christians inferred hate, but that doesn’t mean it’s there. I’m sure you’ll agree that whatever else Terry Jones is, he’s hardly ambiguous or subtle about his hatred of Muslims or about that hatred motivating this latest publicity stunt.

  • skinnyminny

    Perhaps you are unaware that invoking, or inciting for that matter is not good. Here, I am listing some sites that will help you understand, that it is not good. Because we don’t have the problems that Europe has, maybe, just maybe we shouldn’t have this type of behavior from Mr. Jones. See, “A Good Death Is A Slow One,” 2-3-2011, here Jalal (reportedly from here) is reportedly calls for Muslims to remove themselves from civil society because the world is corrupt and unholy – oh, and by the way, there are some videos attached.
    “Hamza Tzortis and Hizb ut Tahrir,” http// here, one is allegedly saying he rejects freedom of speech and the idea of freedom.
    “A Radical New Year From East London Mosque,” One of the guys here was trained as a pharmacists here in the states, and something that is disturbing to me that you will see here.
    And lastly, see “Lies from the East London Mosque,”
    Have you heard about Jamaat e-Islami (JI) and how they feel about insulting Islam? If not, please see “Where is the Divide? Cameron Seems to Know,”
    Otherwise, it may be a good idea to know who you are harassing! This is what, IMO, Mr. Jones is doing, bothering people all for publicity sakes. As a rule, I don’t go around bothering people. And yes, I am agnostic! However, I believe people have the right to be left alone, and to believe whatever they want when it comes to religion.

  • JSS

    Burning the Koran is an expression of free speach protected under the First Amendment. Burning the Koran is no different than submerging the crucifix in a jar of urin or smearing a iconograph of the virgin Mary with elephant dung. The only difference is that the aforementioned examples are considered artistic expression and Terry Jone’s threats to burn copys of the Koran possess a political and religious element of expression. So, does Terry Jones have the right to desecrate copies of holy text revered by Muslims? Does any individual in society have the right to desecrate religious objects, images, of holy text. If If the art exhibits of Andres Serrano and Chris Ofili are any indicator the answer is simply “yes.”

    The SPLC, however, did not find it necessary to bring these inviduals to the attention of the public. Apparently, descration of Christian iconography and relics must not warrant public condemnation. Descration of non-Western religious text (i.e. the Koran) doesn’t garner the same degree of toleration. Apparently, it is permissable to degarde Christianity, but all other religions are exempt and deemed worth of protection in the name of equality and tolerance. This is simply hypocracy and a flagerent example of the irrationality of humanistic (i.e. liberal) thought. Therefore, if it is permissable in society to degrade Christianity, Islam should be no different.

    Regardless of the fact that you might find such actionst to be offensive to your individual notions of religious tolerance it does not change the fact that Terry Jones actions are completely within the permissable bounds of the constitution. Why must Muslims be protected from the indignity of having their religious text desecrated when equally offensive conduct is perpetrated against Christianity on near daily basis within our society.

  • Ryan

    The Abrahamic religions are all just as bad as each other.

  • IludiumPhosdex

    “Georgia Ireland” observes:

    Any illiterate idiot can become a pastor. Terry Jones meets the qualifications. He, like so many of his kind, thrives on hate and fear and attracts people with the same kind of thought and emotional issues.

    And IIBC, the ministry has traditionally been the domain of such who were disinherited or otherwise regarded as the “black sheep” of broken homes, eventually to fall prey to Al Cohol more often than not.

  • Wayne

    It appears that the only people that are in favor of the SPLC are homosexuals and Atheist or such liberals that it puts them in both categories – homos and liberals. The people that compare the bible and the Koran have either never read the Koran or the Bible and if they have read one or both then they excuses their homosexual lifestyle to misinterpretation. Come on people…get your head out of where you have it stuck before you kill someone with your diseased speech! Oh, one last thing. If Dr. Terry Jones’ disagreement and speaking out against groups or lifestyles makes him a hater, then aren’t you a hater for speaking out against him and his group? Get with the program!

  • Ian


    What immoral things do you suggest are advocated or excused in the Quran, but not in the Bible?

  • Snorlax

    This pastor must not be very familiar with his own Bible.

    The Old Testament has some freaky stuff in it, just as bad as what he is accusing the Koran of having.

    Hatred comes from ignorance.

  • ModerateMike

    If Mr. Jones is in fact a pastor of a Christian church, then I would think that one of his prime directives would be to encourage other people to accept his faith. Instead, he has chosen a path that is bound to give the Christian faith, and Americans in particular, a bad name.

  • KaffirFalcon

    Rev. Fr, Paul Francis Paoletti, F.D.P. said,

    “If the Koran does not stand up to scrutiny by these HATE MONGERS; then certainly neither will the Christian Bible.”

    And can you explain, “reverend”, why burning or desecrating a Bible isn’t as nearly aa dangerous nor provokes violent reactions by those who follow it, unlike Koran?

    Funny, no riots or terrorist attacks followed THAT, did they?

    “All that he claims to be in the Koran are in the Bible as well.”

    “All”, he says. Just the ignorance and one-sided of your lumping of Bible and Koran together reveals that you are about as much a “Reverend” as Horton Heat are.

  • Georgia Ireland

    Any illiterate idiot can become a pastor. Terry Jones meets the qualifications. He, like so many of his kind, thrives on hate and fear and attracts people with the same kind of thought and emotional issues. Maybe it is best not to give him much energy because it might feed his insatiable need for nagative attention.

  • Ian


    I haven’t seen anyone on this site argue that what Jones is doing ISN’T protected under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Are you arguing that people don’t have a legal right to criticize him?

  • JSS

    I realy don’t care if they burn Korans or not. Besides, isn’t desecration of national symbols and religious icons and holy text constitute protected speach pursuant to the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United State? Isn’t this suppose to be a law firm?

  • jgt2598

    Yeah, great plan. Prove that your better than al-Quada by being MORE fanatical. That is like trying to beat a Nazi by being more anti-semetic. And besides, significant portions of the Koran are shared with the bible.

  • Mary

    If this man is a pastor, then any idiot can become one. He clearly hasn’t read the Bible, and he definitely hasn’t read the Quran. He’s as dumb as Sarah Palin. They are both products of our poor educational system that spits out one dumb person after another, and one bully after another. The media should not be giving them any attention, because it is obvious that they crave that more than anything.

  • Lil ol me

    So while trying to promote a religious belief that has lead to the highest body count in the history of humanity, this pastor is going to attack another belief system?

    About par for the course really. I say ban all religion.

  • Marilyn

    Seems like Fr. Paoletti captures my conclusion best, but my question to Mr. Jones would be if someone declared him guilty of inciting to riot, not to mention advance planning of a crime (isn’t burning the already convicted Koran in his mind or anything in the street against some local ordinance?), would he turn himself in to the authorities and plead guilty? What I would really like to happen is that he threw his idea of an “execution party” and no one came.

  • Ahab

    “We are accusing the Koran of murder, rape, deception, being responsible for terrorist activities all over the world …”

    Um, does Jones realize that the same accusations could be hurled against certain interpretations of the Bible? It appears that he has a very facile understanding of both Islam and his own faith.

  • John

    Most of his charges against the Koran can also be attributed to the Bible.

    Why are people such dicks?

  • Rev. Fr, Paul Francis Paoletti, F.D.P.

    If the Koran does not stand up to scrutiny by these HATE MONGERS; then certainly neither will the Christian Bible. All that he claims to be in the Koran are in the Bible as well.
    Perhaps we all need to learn how to remember that the Master os us all taught us to LOVE ONE ANOTHER. There is no room in my life for outright HATRED, as this sentiment is totally unchristian.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Hopefully that rascally hippy guy will be around to swipe his Koran.

    “Dude was talking about burnin’ the Koran so I was like dude you HAVE no Koran!”

  • charles boteler

    Dove World Outreach has quite a problem. It can’t decide whether it hates Muslims or the LGBT community the most.What a dilemma.