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Would-Be Koran Burner Terry Jones Barred from the UK

Controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones, who got worldwide attention last September because of his "International Burn a Koran Day," has been denied entry into the United Kingdom. Jones, pastor at Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., had been invited to speak and participate in a series of anti-Islam demonstrations next month put on by a group called England is Ours (EIO), based in Milton Keynes, located in southeastern England.

Jones was officially banned Wednesday, but he's been on British Home Secretary Theresa May's radar for a few months, she told Sky News, a media outlet. She had been actively considering a ban on Jones since early December when another group, the virulently anti-Islamic English Defence League (EDL), extended him an invitation. May explained that the home secretary “has the right to exclude people who are not conducive to public good or on national security grounds.” A British Home Office spokesman said of the decision to bar Jones that his “numerous comments … are evidence of his unacceptable behaviour.”

Jones' "International Burn a Koran Day," which was slated to coincide with the 2010 anniversary of 9/11, brought international condemnation, including criticism from President Obama. General David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said the stunt could ignite violence from the Taliban and endanger troops. Defense Secretary Robert Gates even called Jones personally to express his grave concerns that the proposed Koran-burning could put the lives of American forces at risk around the world. Jones finally conceded and scrapped the event, but he didn't cool his rhetoric.

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

Barry Taylor, secretary of EIO, expressed to his disappointment over Britain’s exclusion of Jones. “The whole object of the exercise is to have a discussion about the Islamification of the UK,” he said, and “just have dialogue about the problems.”

According to its website, EIO is “a group of patriotic activists based in the UK.” They intend to “take back governance of the United Kingdom” and return it to “control of the British people.” EIO is opposed to all immigration, and they claim that the British banking system is corrupt and that the media is controlled by “a very small group of people.” The group is also anti-Muslim. One of its claims is that Muslim men are pedophiles who prey on young European girls because the restrictions of Islam don't allow them ready access to Muslim women.

A recent press release at Dove World Outreach Center’s website states, “This ban exemplifies the sabotage of the basic human rights of freedom of speech and freedom of expression.” The ban, the press release continues, exemplifies how effective the threat of militant Islam in the UK is, that even a speculation of violence prevents someone from traveling to the UK.  Jones has said that he will appeal the ban. One of his daughters and her children live in England, he has said, and the ban prevents him from seeing them.

Jones insisted in that he is not against Muslims or Islam, but only the “radical element of Islam.” However, Jones has repeatedly bashed Islam without making such a distinction. The title of his book is “Islam is of the Devil,” in which he claims that the world is facing a “great danger,” and that danger is “the growing religion of Islam.” Jones writes that Islam masquerades as a religion of peace, but in fact “it is very much a religion of intolerance, violence, and oppression.” In addition, Jones continues, Muslims suffer “under the curse of Islam” and that when “Islam comes to your neighborhood … you will have to become a Muslim, or you will face death.”

Jones was originally contacted by the EDL in December about his attending a rally scheduled for February of this year. That news brought forth calls and petitions from various British activist groups like Hope, Not Hate to bar Jones from entering the country, according to newspaper reports.

In an amazing display of irony, the EDL uninvited Jones in mid-December – because of his anti-gay views.  An EDL member told BBC Radio Derby that though they agreed with Jones about Islam, “we do not agree with some of his manifesto such as some of his issues with homosexuality and some of his issues with race.” The spokesman continued, “The EDL is anti-homophobic and we are a non-racism organization.”

The EIO, whose invitation followed that of the EDL, hasn’t given up. Another EIO spokesman said he hoped other members of Jones' congregation would be able to visit and speak to the group, if Jones couldn't get the ban reversed. Otherwise, EIO's secretary Taylor stated, they'll try to catch him in Europe, because apparently, Jones is planning visits in nearby European countries.

If that falls through, there's always “International Judge a Koran Day,” an event slated for March 20th at Dove World’s Florida locale. What exactly does that entail? From the signs in the photo on the church's website, you can “burn it, drown it, shred it, or shoot it.”

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