Terry Jones, controversial U.S. pastor, denied entry into Canada


terry jones

Stephen M. Dowell/MCTControversial anti-Islamic pastor Terry Jones has been denied entry into Canada. Jones was to attend a rally at Queen’s Park on Thursday evening.

Nicholas Keung and Touria Izri
About 50 people showed up at the Freedom Showdown event in Toronto Thursday, most apparently sharing dissenting views from Rev. Terry Jones, the missing speaker famous for threatening to burn the Qur’an.
The dissidents said they were as disappointed as Jones, the pastor from Florida who was turned back at the Canada-U.S. border earlier Thursday, because they would have liked to engage in dialogue with him and understand what leads someone to adopt such hateful views against Islam.
“I’ve talked to Muslim radicals, and they are so similar to non-Muslim radicals,” said Mubin Shaikh, one of two undercover counter-terrorism operatives who assisted Canadian authorities in uncovering the Toronto 18 terrorism case in 2006.
“The best antidote to hate speech is truth speech. Is the society really better off by demonizing a minority group?”
Hoisting a banner that promoted peace between Christians and Muslims, Max French said people like Jones are “toxic.”
“I’m here to bring a voice of sanity to an otherwise insane society. They do nothing but incite conflicts,” said French.
More than 20 Toronto police officers were on guard monitoring the hour-long event that also commemorated the death of U.S. Cpl. Chris Speer, killed in a fight in Afghanistan that involved Canadian-born 15-year-old Omar Khadr, who was recently returned to Canada after years imprisoned at Guantanamo.
Jones, who leads Florida’s tiny Dove World Outreach Centre, was held up for four hours earlier Thursday at the Windsor border crossing, before being denied entry into Canada to attend the evening event outside the Ontario Legislature.
The vehicle Jones shared with Pastor Wayne Sapp, as well as their cellphone records and computers, was searched while the two were interrogated by Canada Border Services Agency about the intent of their visit and what he was prepared to preach at the event.
Authorities also seized two 1-by-1.5-metre cardboard signs that said, “Koran burning site” and “Islam is the new Nazism.”
“Dr. Jones is obviously very disappointed. It’s a big blow to him and all of us,” said his spokesperson, Fran Ingram, in Florida. “This is not about him. This is about free speech in the West.”
In barring Jones, border officials cited a fine he got in Germany in 1993 for using the title “doctor” there (as a recipient of an honorary doctorate in theology), as well as a criminal charge of breaching the peace at a planned rally in Detroit last year.
Ingram said Jones got both decisions overturned on appeal. However, unconvinced border officials demanded proof.
“You are required to provide a criminal records check before returning to Canada,” said a notice issued to Jones at the border, obtained by the Star. “Failure to provide this criminal history record, while attempting to enter Canada, may result in your arrest.”
Jones’s refusal wasn’t the first instance of a controversial visitor being prohibited from entering Canada on the basis of stated views and remarks made elsewhere.
Last year, British activist Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee eventually released without charge, was refused entry twice by Ottawa while on a world tour to talk about his experiences in detention. Canadian officials said he was denied based on “information via open sources (that the) subject is/would have been a member of al-Qaeda.”
In 2010, Mumbai-based Muslim televangelist Zakir Naik was banned from attending the Journey of Faith Conference in Toronto for comments he had made that appeared sympathetic to the late Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
In 2009, outspoken British MP George Galloway was stopped because of his alleged support for Hamas, which is classified in Canada as a terrorist group.
Jones was invited by a group calling itself Canadians United Against Terror to take part in a debate on “free speech” in Toronto at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Event organizer Allan Einstoss said the government’s actions show “great cowardice” and that the event would go on without Jones. “It will be offensive on both sides,” said Einstoss.
Jones caused international outrage in 2010, when he planned the “International Burn a Koran Day” on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
The Qur’an burning was put off until the following March, at Jones’s church in Gainesville, Fla. That incident set off bloody riots in Afghanistan.

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