Fla. pastor Terry Jones advises Egypt: ‘Put Muhammad on trial,’ not me

Steven Nelson Associate Editor
Font Size:

Florida pastor Terry Jones isn’t concerned about a warrant for his arrest issued by Egypt’s general prosecutor on charges that could bring the death penalty.

Jones told The Daily Caller that the charges — stemming from his promotion of the film “Innocence of Muslims” — are “absolutely ridiculous” and “typical” of Islam.

The criminal charges include insulting Islam and Muhammad, harming national unity, and spreading false information.

Egyptian authorities, Jones said, “would definitely be better advised to put Muhammad on trial.”

Worldwide riots erupted in 2010 after Jones, who leads a small church in Gainesville, Fla., announced his plans to burn copies of the Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

In 2011 and again earlier this year, Jones torched copies of the Quran after presiding over a “trial” of the book that found it guilty of “crimes against humanity.”

“I do have a degree of sympathy for Muslims,” Jones said. “They’re like a lot of Christians who havent read the Bible — they dont understand what type of life Muhammad actually led.”

“They’re definitely not all radical and anti-American,” he added, “but this is an example of how Islam is not compatible with Western society, which is based upon the First Amendment — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of press, being able to be critical.”

Jones said that “the warrant issue” will not impede his planned travels abroad. International policing organization Interpol is unlikely to help Egypt nab Jones or his seven co-defendants, Foreign Policy magazine notes.

“I’m supposed to go to Toronto on the 11th or 12th of October,” Jones told TheDC, where he will be working with “a Hindu group raising awareness of the persecution Hindus have received from Islam.”

The pastor has been banned from travelling to the United Kingdom and Germany, and he doesn’t plan to travel to Egypt — a place he’s visited “a couple times.”

Despite shrugging off the arrest warrant, Jones said he is indeed concerned about the three dozen or so death threats he has received since last week, when violent protests against the Muhammad video embroiled the Middle East.

“I am armed,” he said. “We have no intention of running, hiding or backing down, but the threats are very real.”

Jones told TheDC that, based on his 35 years of counseling experience, he is convinced that “Muhammad was a very disturbed, mentally ill individual.” Jones said he has “no doubt that Muhammad was demonically influenced,” too.

Jones said he has spoken with the creator of “Innocence of Muslims,” Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, almost every day since he was first contacted five or six weeks ago about helping to promote the film.

Nakoula previously used the pseudonym “Sam Bacile” when speaking with The Associated Press, and initially claimed he was an Israeli Jew. He has since been unmasked as a Coptic Christian with a criminal past.

But Jones offered a more generous interpretation of Nakoula’s use of a fake name, saying, “all the Copts that I know… when they come to America they adopt a different name, because [their names] are impossible for us to pronounce.”

In addition to his high-profile criticism of Muhammad and Islam, Jones is running for president of the United States.

Jones won’t appear on ballots alongside President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, but he is accumulating electors so that write-in votes would count if he’s victorious in a state.

His presidential campaign is “getting a positive response,” said Jones, noting that he is close to finalizing slates of presidential electors in Florida, Michigan, Alabama and Texas.

If he wasn’t running himself, Jones said, “I would definitely, definitely have to vote for Romney — no doubt about that.”

Follow Steven on Twitter