GAINESVILLE — The man who in 2010 led his Gainesville congregation in a Quran-burning campaign may be moving on — to Lee County.
The Gainesville Sun reported Monday that Terry Jones is looking to transfer his non-denominational Christian Dove World Outreach Center to Fort Myers if and when a Christian school follows through with plans to purchase the church’s property in north central Florida.
Jones told the newspaper the church name would change if they relocated. Jones’ son, Luke, told the newspaper that Naples and Sarasota are home to a large population of potential church members.
“We don’t feel that Gainesville is really open to what we are doing,” Luke Jones told the newspaper, “so we feel like we want to relocate and see how it goes there.”
The 30-member congregation made headlines last year when Terry Jones announced it would burn copies of the Quran on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Though the burning did not occur then, in March of this year an assistant pastor burned the Islam’s holy book inside Dove World’s church.
In reaction to the event, protesters in Afghanistan stormed a United Nations in Mazar-e-Sharif, killing seven UN staff members.
Jones has made his views on Islam clear. He authored a book, “Islam is of the Devil," and through a website affiliated with his church, sells T-shirts, mugs and baseball caps printed with that title.
In Fort Myers, Mohamed Al-Darsani of the Islamic Center for Peace said the Muslim community in Lee County looks forward to the opportunity to chat with Jones’ congregation if it does indeed come to Southwest Florida.
“He’s welcome to move anywhere in the U.S.,” said the imam. “We don’t agree with his views... (but) if he wants to move next door, he is very welcome.”
“That will open a chance for a lot of dialogues between the Muslim community and those who adopt the view of Terry Jones,” said Al-Darsani. “They will change their minds, I will tell you that.”
According to an Associated Press report, Terry Jones said last week that he and preacher Wayne Sapp will “point out the multiple dangers of the Quran” and talk about radical Islam on Sept. 10, though he did not say where. Jones also said he would attend Ground Zero events on Sept. 11.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.