May 26, 2013
Florida’s Koran-burning pastor: ‘We will not back down’ from fight'
By Adrian Bono
For the Herald
In an exclusive telephone interview with the BuenosAiresHerald.com, controversial US pastor Terry Jones said he stands by his decision to support and promote the film about prophet Mohammed that has ignited protests across the Middle East.
Jones called Islam a “cancer” with “a 1,400-year history of violence” and defiantly vowed to continue his fight against the religion “no matter what.”
The 60-year-old said he had no regrets about supporting the film and denied he was promoting any type of violence or war.
He also criticized US President Barack Obama’s “pro-Islam” policies, saying he was “probably a secret Muslim”, “a liar and a deceiver.”
Just 18 months after an infamous stunt in which he burnt copies of the Koran — Islam’s holy book — he revealed he has received “hundreds of death threats” and there is a US$2.4 million bounty on his head.
Despite being the bellwether of a small congregation in Gainesville, Florida, Terry Jones’ words have managed to resonate throughout the world over the last few years due to his extreme views on Islam and his one-man crusade against the Koran and the prophet Mohammed.
The pastor, just 18 months after his infamous ‘International Judge the Koran Day‘ performance, in which his burning of a copy of the sacred book sparked a furious revolt in Afghanistan that ended the lives of at least 30 people, Jones has doubled down on his feud with the Islamic community and come out in defence of Innocence of Muslims, a poorly-shot film that portrays the prophet Mohammed as a fraud, a child molester and womanizer, which inspired a new wave of violence against the US in many Islamic countries.
Many around the world, including Russian senator Mikhail Margelov, current Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, have accused Jones of being directly responsible for the recent attacks on the Libyan embassy that caused the death of US ambassador Chris Stevens.
Speaking from Florida on Friday night, Jones told the Buenos Aires Herald his thoughts on Islam, the infamous film and the reaction to it.
Knowing the violent reaction that the film has generated all over the Middle East, do you have any regrets when it comes to promoting this film?
Absolutely not. We have freedom of speech and you cannot put a limit to it. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, sometimes it’s very dangerous. Many people followed Martin Luther King and even he himself was killed for it. If I choose not to say something because it might make people mad, where does it stop? Soon we will be living in Nazi Germany.
The director of the film says Islam is “a cancer.” Do you agree with this claim?
Absolutely, and it’s by no means a claim. I think Islam is a very dangerous religion and I think “cancer” is the right word for it. There are many Muslims in the world, and I certainly hope that the radical arm of Islam is relatively a small percentage. Although considering there are 1.7 billion Muslims, even a small percentage of them is very large. (Say) it’s 170 million people who hate the US, western society, freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
That’s why that portion must definitely be dealt with in a radical way.
What do you mean by that?
I’m by no means promoting any type of violence or war, but I think we have to send a stronger message saying that we simply will not tolerate their promoting of fear. When we look around and see what Islam is doing, it shows that the United States has lost its respect around the world.
When a country feels as though they can break into your embassy, climb over the wall, rip your flag down, drag an ambassador out into the streets and kill him, maybe there’s something wrong not only with them, but also with us.
So do you not agree with the Obama administration’s attempts to make peace with the Islamic world?
I would agree with anybody’s attempts to make peace with it, but I think they must also strongly condemn terrorism. It’s easy to talk, but they also have to take actions.
The (Obama) administration is an absolute disaster. Obama is very pro-Islam. And by looking at how he reacts, I believe he is probably a secret Muslim himself.
But Barack Obama has already said many times that he is a Christian...
Islam has the doctrine of the Taqiyya (a form of religious dissumulation where a believer can deny their religion if in danger of persecution) that allows Muslims to lie. And for over twenty years he attended the church of Jeremiah Right in Washington DC, a man known for being anti-America and anti-white. So I think Obama is a liar and a deceiver.
Do you think a Romney presidency would have handled things differently?
(Laughs) Mitt Romney is a flip-flopper. Of course he would be better at things than Obama because he is more conservative and Obama is very liberal.
Romney is a Mormon and I’m obviously not a fan of the Mormon faith because I think it is very weird. But at the same time Mormons are considered to be honest and moral people who have a high character standard. So he would be better than Obama.
What are your thoughts on the Arab Spring?
I believe the Arab spring probably had a good intention, but things have changed for the worse. I visited Egypt twice and its original goal there was to bring more of a democracy, but the country was much better before than it is now with the Muslim Brotherhood in power.
And now the Egyptian government has banned you from entering the country for your connection to the film...
Not only Egypt, but England as well. I was going to do a rally concerning Islam but they have banned me too. I’ve told the Muslim community that our problem is not with them. They can live in the US and be protected under the first amendment. They can build mosques, they can evangelize. Our problem is whenever they want to institute Sharia Law and change our constitution.
What makes you think they are after that?
Every single European country is having problems with Islam right now. There are different states here in the US who wanted to pass anti-Sharia Law and the Muslims spoke up against that.
I find that very suspicious so I think banning it is a good thing to do since it would put a lot of people’s minds at ease.
They have a 1,400-year history of violence. I think it is the fault of the Koran. Mohammed encouraged violence, the Koran encouraged violence.
Argentina has had two large terrorist attacks against the Jewish community that were allegedly enacted by Islamic extremists and yet there hasn’t been a significant rise in Islamophobia here...
As long as Muslims are a small minority, then there is no problem. We can find that there are Muslims who are not interested in being terrorists. They live in peace and they are pretty invisible. Problems begin once they grow in numbers, like they did in the US.
Have you received any death threats recently?
I’ve had hundreds of death threats against myself and there are three bounties on my life, one of them for US$2.4 million dollars.
Considering the reaction that this film has had in the Middle East, will you continue your fight against Islam?
Absolutely. We will not back down. We will not go into hiding. No matter what.