MANATEE -- After Manatee County resident the Rev. Terry Jones announced he would burn Muslim holy books on 9/11, an observance called "Unity Day USA" was set in response in Mulberry to feature Americans of different faiths, ethnicities and races.
"This year, we will focus on the positive prayerful response of the Muslim community to the planned Qu'ran-burning by Pastor Terry Jones," read an announcement of the event, which will start at 8:46 a.m. Sept. 11 at the Mulberry Civic Center.
The time is meant to evoke the exact moment the first terrorist-commandeered plane hit the World Trade Center north tower on Sept. 11, 2001.
Jones plans to burn 2,998 holy books, the central text of Islam, in honor of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he reiterated Tuesday.
Jones complained Tuesday about the injustices in Islamic countries, saying for example, if a person converts from Islam to any other faith: "You're sentenced to
death. It is absolutely horrifying.
"If they are truly peaceful ... then, of course, they should be horrified against these injustices, also, and speaking out against Muslims and the brotherhood of Islam that propagates violence," Jones said.
His book-burning session is slated for 5 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Loyce E. Harpe Park, 500 W. Carter Road, Mulberry, Jones said.
The Unity Day event will include a Muslim angle, said Mike Ghouse, president of the World Muslim Congress, a Dallas-based nonprofit devoted to promoting cohesive societies around the world.
Ghouse said he is working with a Polk County group called "Not in Mulberry," which opposes Jones' message.
Ghouse urges those who turn to violence against Americans, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq, "to follow the prophet, and pray for the goodwill of humanity" instead.
He said he expects about 100 to attend the Unity Day event.
Invitees include themayors of Mulberry and Lakeland, and representatives of different faiths,including Christian, Jew-ish, Muslim, Sikh, Hinduand Mormon, said Ghouse.
Jones bought an 11.69-acre property in Manatee County for $325,000, and is moving his ministries from the Gainesville area here, the Herald reported last month.
Jones chose a property at 17202 Waterline Road in East Manatee for his new location because he liked "the size and diversity of the population. It has a lot of good potential also for our message."
Jones' organizations include the Dove World Outreach Center, the Dove Charismatic Ministries Inc., and a political arm, Stand Up America Now.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.