UPDATE: Two religious leaders at a recently-founded offshoot of the Baptist church burned Korans in a Tennessee back yard on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, reports the NBC affiliate in Nashville.
The Rev. Bob Old and the Rev. Danny Allen both had different reasons for burning the Muslim holy book, but they said it had nothing to do with whether or not a mosque was built near ground zero.
“It’s about faith, it’s about love, but you have to have the right book behind you. This is a book of hate, not a book of love,” said Old while holding up a Quran.
The two men said they burned the books to defend the United States Constitution and the American people. It’s a move that has been denounced by Christian groups, politicians and even some of their family members.
The TV station noted that Rev. Old’s house was picketed by three women whose husbands are fighting overseas. “I’m scared for my husband. I’m scared for my friends and everybody who protects us,” one of the picketers said.
ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS BELOW
The Florida pastor who planned a Koran-burning on the anniversary of 9/11 swore on Saturday he would “not ever” burn the Muslim holy book, but that didn’t stop others from picking up the pastor’s mantle as Americans marked the ninth anniversary of the country’s worst terrorist attack.
At Ground Zero in New York City, an unidentified man was escorted away by police when he tore pages out of a Koran and set them alight during a protest, the New York Daily News reported.
“If they can burn American flags, I can burn the Koran,” the man reportedly shouted. “America should never be afraid to give their opinion.”
The Daily News said the man “did not appear to be arrested.”
Meanwhile, a small group of conservative Christians tore some pages from a Koran in a protest outside the White House Saturday to denounce what they called the “charade of Islam” on the anniversary of 9/11.
“Part of why we’re doing that, please hear me: the charade that Islam is a peaceful religion must end,” said Randall Terry, a leading anti-abortion campaigner, and one of six people who took part in the protest.
Another activist, Andrew Beacham, read out a few Koran passages calling for hatred towards Christians and Jews, and then ripped those pages from an English paperback edition of the Islamic holy book.
He carefully put the torn pieces into a plastic bag, in order not to litter, and said: “The only reason I will not burn it at the White House is because to burn anything on the Capitol grounds is a felony.”
Beacham, who describes himself as a leader of the right-wing conservative Tea Party from Indiana, added: “The Twin Towers were taken down because of the Koran and other religious teachings.”
A few curious tourists stopped to watch the huddle outside the White House, while police took down the names of the participants but did not intervene.
For his part, Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, appeared to have succumbed to intense attention from the media and senior US officials in announcing his church would “not ever” burn Korans.
“We will definitely not burn the Koran, no,” he told NBC News. “Not today, not ever.”
— With a report from AFP