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Quran-burning pastor to host Zimmerman rally in Sanford


This news story was published on April 11, 2012.
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By Jeff Weiner, The Orlando Sentinel –

ORLANDO, Fla. — Controversial Gainesville, Fla., pastor Terry Jones plans to hold a rally in Sanford on Saturday in support of George Zimmerman, the man charged in the death of teenager Trayvon Martin.

The rally is planned by Jones’ “Stand Up America!” organization, which announced the event on its website under the heading “JUSTICE FOR ZIMMERMAN vs RACIST LYNCH MOB.”

Jones’ Dove World Outreach Center confirmed that he will come to Sanford this weekend to speak “in support of the constitutional rights for George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.”

Jones had previously announced his support for Zimmerman, who remains jailed in Seminole County on a second-degree murder charge in the Feb. 26 shooting of Martin in Sanford.

The rally is expected to begin at 1 p.m. EDT outside the Criminal Justice Center.

Jones drew international attention in 2010 when he announced plans to would burn 1,000 copies of the Quran, the central text of Islam, on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

He later staged the burning of Islam’s holy book last year. That event was blamed for subsequent riots and the killings of at least seven U.N. workers in the Middle East.

Zimmerman has not acknowledged Jones’ support. However, a photo on Zimmerman’s website of a “JUSTICE FOR ZIMMERMAN” sign appears to be an image from a previous Jones rally.

The same photo accompanies a report by Jacksonville Fox affiliate WAWS-TV, detailing a protest staged by University of Florida students last month, which Jones and his church attended.

According to the report, Jones and Dove World Outreach Center members traded chants in front of Gainesville City Hall with the protesters, who were calling for Zimmerman’s arrest.

When it initially debuted, Zimmerman’s website featured two images: The sign and a spray paint message on the side of a building that said “LONG LIVE ZIMMERMAN.”

The second image appeared to show the graffiti that, according to local media reports, had been spray painted on the wall of a black cultural center at Ohio State University.

That image was later taken off the site. Zimmerman’s former attorneys have confirmed the legitimacy of the website, TheRealGeorgeZimmerman.com.

At the Gainesville protest, Jones told WAWS-TV that he was there “to support George Zimmerman’s constitutional rights to a fair trial.”

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