Dove World Outreach Center pastor Terry Jones on Saturday burned copies of the Quran and an image depicting Muhammad in front of his church to protest the imprisonment in Iran of a Christian clergyman.
Moments later, Gainesville Fire Rescue issued the church a citation for violating the city’s fire ordinances.
Saturday’s act of protest took place in spite of published reports that the Pentagon had urged Jones to reconsider, expressing concern that American soldiers in Afghanistan and elsewhere could be put at greater risk because of the act.
About 20 people gathered Saturday on church property at 5805 NW 37th Street about 5 p.m. for the planned burning. Several Gainesville police officers were stationed across the street from the church or were patrolling the area. A few people watched the scene, but there were no protesters.
Jones and another pastor demanded the release of the Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from an Iranian prison. Jones said Nadarkhani faces execution.
Jones spoke at a podium that was far enough away that he could not be heard by people along 37th Street. The event was streamed live over the Internet.
After the speeches, copies of the Islamic holy book and an image depicting Muhammad were burned at about 5:50 p.m. in a portable fire pit. Shortly afterward, officers in two Gainesville Police Department cars drove onto the property. With them was a GFR official, who issued the citation.
Fire Chief Gene Prince, contacted by The Sun afterward, said Jones had approval for a burn but did not have the required authorization to burn books. Prince said Gainesville has restrictive fire ordinances, adding that books cannot be burned without authorization because of environmental concerns over the burning of glue and bindings in books.
The fine is $271, which includes court costs, Prince said.