Controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones
Credits: REUTERS/REBECCA COOK
TORONTO - Qur'an-burning pastor Terry Jones doesn't anticipate any problems when crossing the Canada-US border as he gears up for a debate about the Innocence of Muslims film on the lawn of Queen's Park on Thursday.
The Gainesville, FL pastor said Wednesday he hadn't heard anything from Canada Border Services Agency to indicate he will be denied entry to the Great White North.
"There has been at this point, no problems, just a lot of people are questioning that. We have not been contacted and don't anticipate any problems," said Jones, 61.
He gained international attention in 2010 for his plan to burn copies of the Qur'an on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. He backed down then but ended up burning the Muslim holy book last April and was fined by Gainesville Fire Rescue for burning books without authorization.
There is a $6.4-million bounty on his head and he has been banned from entering England or Germany.
Jones will debate with Toronto Imam Steve Rockwell on whether the controversial film should be shown publicly. The two will also spar on topics such as whether Islam is compatible with Western society and the radicalism of Islam.
The event, organized by For Love of Charter and Canadians United Against Terror, is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. with thousands expected to attend.
Dennis Clark, the sergeant-at-arms of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, said he's been working with Toronto police to ensure there are enough officers deployed to handle the crowds.
He has been trying to get in touch with the event organizers to go over the issue of public safety, but has not been able to reach them, he said.
"We're anticipating he'll be allowed over the border," Clark said. "We're always concerned for public safety. We're anticipating counter-demonstrations, so we have to plan for that."
Jones said he's not surprised his entry to Canada has sparked heightened concern from police and government officials.
"I think (the worry) has a lot to do with fear concerning Islam and radical Islam," he said. "We've had many demonstrations in the US and one time we were out at University of Irvine, (in California) and they had to shut down half the university because of a bomb threat."
The pastor added he abides by the law and doesn't have a criminal record.