|Controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones stands in a courtroom of the 19th District Dearborn Court during a break in a hearing in front of Judge Mark Somers about Jones' right to protest in Dearborn, Michigan April 21, 2011. (REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)
TORONTO - A controversial Florida pastor who was fined $277 for burning a Qur’an is bringing his anti-Islam message to Toronto.
Confirmation of his visit next month came as protestors against the showing of an anti-Muslim film prepared to take to downtown streets.
A peaceful protest is planned against the screening of Innocence of Muslims by the Muslim Congress and Canadians Against Blasphemy for Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The site chosen is across from the U.S. Consulate on University Ave.
Similar protests are also planned in Washington D.C., Houston and Los Angeles.
A counter-protest for the screening of the film was also planned for the same time at the consulate but was cancelled at the last minute due to a lack of supporters.
Organizers of the nixed protest said they’ve invited Pastor Terry Jones, of Dove World Outreach Center, in Gainesville, Fla., to visit Toronto on Oct. 11 and 12 to join a round-table discussion and possible protest.
Jones, 61, gained international attention in 2010 for his plan to burn Qur’ans, the scripture of the Islamic religion, on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
He backed down then but ended up burning the Muslim holy book in April 2012 and was fined by Gainesville Fire Rescue for burning books without authorization.
“Our message is to raise awareness of the dangers of Islam,” Jones said from Gainsville on Friday. “Islam does have a radical and violent vein in it.”
An independent candidate for the 2012 U.S. presidential election, Jones said he speaks daily to the producer of the controversial movie who is in hiding.
More than 30 people have been killed in deadly protests against the movie at U.S. embassies in the Middle East and elsewhere. Among those killed was the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
“There is only one copy of that movie that exists,” he said. “The producer has it stored for safe keeping in a secure area. Nobody else can say they have this movie.”
Jones isn’t sure if he will be allowed to cross the border since he has been banned in Britain and Germany for his extreme views.
Officials of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) would not comment on if they’ll stop him at the border.
Jones is among seven people, including two Canadians, against whom Egypt’s prosecutor general issued arrest warrants earlier this week for alleged involvement with the film. The Canadians said they had little to do with the movie.
He was invited here by a group called Canadians United Against Terror, whose members are working with leaders of other faiths to obtain and screen the movie in different areas.
Ron Banerjee, of the Canadian Hindu Advocacy, called Jones an ‘elder statesman’ of the anti-Islamic movement.
“He is looked up to by others because he has been around for so long and has so much experience,” Banerjee said on Friday. “He has a lot of experience he can share with others.”
No date has been set for when the movie will be aired in Canada.