Rev. Terry Jones, who leads Floridaâs tiny Dove World Outreach Centre, was held up at the Canada-U.S. border in Windsor for four hours Thursday before being denied entry into Canada to attend Freedom Showdown.
The vehicle Jones shared with Pastor Wayne Sapp, as well as their cellphone records and computers, was searched while the two were interrogated by Canada Border Services Agency about the intent of their visit and what he was prepared to preach at the event.
Authorities also seized two 1-by-1.5-metre cardboard signs that said, âKoran burning siteâ and âIslam is the new Nazism.â
âDr. Jones is obviously very disappointed. Itâs a big blow to him and all of us,â said his spokesperson, Fran Ingram, in Florida. âThis is not about him. This is about free speech in the West.â
In barring Jones, border officials cited a fine he got in Germany in 1993 for using the title âdoctorâ there (as a recipient of an honourary doctorate in theology), as well as a criminal charge of breaching the peace at a planned rally in Detroit last year.
Ingram said Jones got both decisions overturned on appeal. However, unconvinced border officials demanded proof.
âYou are required to provide a criminal records check before returning to Canada,â said a notice issued to Jones at the border, obtained by the Star. âFailure to provide this criminal history record, while attempting to enter Canada, may result in your arrest.â
Jones was invited by a group calling itself Canadians United Against Terror to take part in a debate on âfree speechâ in Toronto at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Event organizer Allan Einstoss said the governmentâs actions show âgreat cowardiceâ and that the event would go on without Jones. âIt will be offensive on both sides,â said Einstoss.