Pastor says he will burn Qurans in Polk park - WNCT

Pastor says he will burn Qurans in Polk park, despite Centcom requests to stop

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MULBERRY, FL (WFLA) -

On this day of remembrance, a different kind of scheduled anniversary event has a lot of people shaking their heads.  Rev. Terry Jones says he will burn thousands of copies of the Muslim holy book on 9/11 in Polk County.  Several groups are planning peaceful events to protest the message he hopes to spread.

According to the Tampa Tribune, Army Gen. Lloyd Austin III, commander of U.S. Central Command, asked Rev. Terry Jones to rethink his plan to burn the Qurans.

The Tribune reported, Austin said this actions may put innocent civilians and military members at risk. He added this is disrespectful to Muslims, according to the Tribune story.

Jones says he wants to burn nearly 3,000 copies of the Quran to represent each person who died during the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC.  He applied for a permit on Friday to burn the books at Loyce Harpe Park in Mulberry. County Manager Mike Herr sent Jones a letter Tuesday denying the request. 

"The short time period that the county had to review the application made it impossible to work through all the issues, most importantly public safety precautions," said Polk County Communications Director Mianne Nelson.

Jones said the event is still scheduled at 5 p.m., as previously planned.  More than 500 people claim they're coming on a Facebook page created for the event. 

"It doesn't matter what the status is of that burn permit," Jones said Tuesday.  "We are prepared to be arrested."

Several people at the park Tuesday said they hope Jones doesn't go through with it.

"The only way you can kill hate is with love and he's killing hate with hate," said Lakeland resident Clint Borchers.  "It doesn't make sense."

Violent protests erupted overseas when Jones burned a single copy of the Quran in Gainesville in 2011.

A group, called "Not in Mulberrry Terry Jones", is urging people not to protest the Quran burning at the park.  Their Facebook page asks people who want to wave signs, to please do so away from the park to "avoid conflict."

People of different faiths are invited to come together to pray Wednesday morning at the Mulberry Civic Center.  The World Muslim Congress is hosting Unity Day USA in response to Jones' plans.  That event starts at 8:46 a.m., the same time the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center 12 years ago.

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