DEMENTED Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, may have “suspended” plans to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11, but the even loopier Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, says it will burn the Korans instead. Oh, and for good measure,Â the American flag.
The WBC, led by the Rev Fred Phelps, is notorious for its controversial protests at the funerals of US soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, as well as at the funerals of those who have died from conditions medically attributed to AIDS.
A central point in the church’s protests is that Americans are being punished because the US tolerates homosexuality.
Although the church burned a Koran in Washington in 2008, it did not get much media attention.
On its website yesterday, the church posted an hysterical video in which the aging Phelps fulminates, and a link to this press release:
Meanwhile, in the latest development in Jones’s off-again-on-again pledge to burn copies of the Islamic holy book at his small central Florida church, he says he’s going to New York Saturday to meet with Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Sufi Muslim imam leading the effort to build an Islamic cultural center and mosque near the World Trade Center site known as “Ground Zero” for the terrorist attack nine years ago.
But Rauf says there’s no such scheduled meeting with Jones.
I am prepared to consider meeting with anyone who is seriously committed to pursuing peace [but] we have no such meeting planned at this time.
And just to make it clear about the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero, he said:
Our plans for the community center have not changed.
Earlier, Rauf had suggested that he might not have chosen that location if he’d known what trouble it would cause, but that to change now would play into the hands of Islamic radicals. But he’s also made it clear that he would not be pressured by threats.