12 Dec 2010

Koran-burning pastor: why I want to come to Britain

Channel 4 News interviews controversial US pastor, Terry Jones, on why he wants to attend an anti-Islam rally in the UK. The Home Secretary said she is ‘actively’ considering banning him.

Pastor Terry Jones has been invited to attend a rally in Luton in February by the English Defence League (EDL) to preach “against the evils and destructiveness of Islam“.

The pastor previously hit the headlines when he announced he would burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11. President Barack Obama said the idea was “destructive” and eventually the pastor backed down from the book burnings.

However, the Home Secretary Theresa May said today she was considering whether to refuse him entry to share his views, saying “Pastor Terry Jones has been on my radar for a few months now” and that she would be actively looking at his visit.

Dove World Outreach Center church pastor Terry Jones listens to Dr. K. A. Paul speak during a news conference

Interview with Pastor Jones

Channel 4 News’s Samira Ahmed interviewed the pastor today during which he confirmed that the pastor’s assistant had contacted EDL first asking if they could visit, from which the EDL invitation was issued.

The pastor argued that he wanted to come because they had been invited and revealed he has family in Britain, saying:

“My ancestry comes from England and Wales – Jones – my daughter is married to an Englishman, so there are also my grandchildren. So of course I have somewhat of a desire to see England prosper and stay a form of democracy”

When quizzed about how much he knew about Islam in Britain, the pastor said his only source of knowledge was the internet – but that his experience in Europe had shown him the “advancements” of Islam:

“I only know what I have seen on the internet (about Islam in Britain). I am not totally ignorant of Islam in Europe, I lived in Europe for 30 years and saw the advancements of Islam.

“I have seen many demonstrations there where Muslims have called for the death of the UK, Israel and America.”

He argued that he had no problem with ordinary Muslims only extremists, but he was still required to consider Islam “evil” because of his standing as a pastor for a Christian church.

“We have always tried to make it clear, we here in America and I assume also in England, we are not against the modern Muslim.

“We are not against the modern Muslim… I’m a pastor, so we would definitely consider Islam evil. Pastor Terry Jones

“We have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, they are more than welcome in America as I assume they are in England.”

“We are just definitely against that radical element that we feel is much larger and much more dangerous than we realise.”

On whether or not Islam was evil, Jones said:

“I’m a pastor, so we would definitely consider Islam evil.

“As a pastor we believe Jesus Christ is the only way, and that makes every other religion of course wrong.”

The pastor felt he had the authority to come to talk about British Islam because they could look around the world and “see what is going on.”

Anti-extremist group Hope not Hate condemned the move and launched a petition calling for Mr Jones to be banned from the UK.

Its director Nick Lowles said: “Pastor Jones should not be allowed to set foot in the United Kingdom. Only extremists will benefit from his visit and, as we know, extremism breeds hatred and hatred breeds violence.

“It is yet another example of how the EDL exists only to sow the seeds of intimidation and division.”

George Readings, a spokesman for counter-extremism think tank Quilliam, said the EDL’s protests had a “track record of degenerating into violence”.

He added: “This suggests that his (Mr Jones’) presence in the UK will not be conducive to the public good. The EDL has only invited him here to stir up trouble.”