(RNS) A Florida church with "Islam is of the devil" signs in its front lawn plans to host an "International Burn A Quran Day," on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks this year.
The Dove World Outreach Center, a non-denominational church in Gainesville, has marked the date in previous years with protests against Islam. The church holds protests on other issues, such as homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and abortion.
Pastor Terry Jones said members of the church plan to be at the Gainesville City Hall on Aug. 2 to protest the election of the city's openly gay mayor. Church-state groups had previously accused the church of illegal politicking for its "No Homo Mayor" signs.
Jones, who is also the author of a book titled "Islam is of the Devil," said protests are key to the mission of his church.
"We feel, as Christians, one of our jobs is to warn," said Jones.
The goal of these and other protests are to give Muslims an opportunity to convert, he said.
In response to the posting of the event on Facebook a little more than a week ago, Jones said that people have been mailing Qurans to the church to burn. He said organizers got the idea, in part, from another Facebook page, called "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day."
Sept. 11 will fall during the Eid al-Fitr holiday this year, when Muslims mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Local Muslims are planning to use the feast as an opportunity to share Islamic traditions and Qurans with the church members and the wider community.
"We don't want to do anything that would be reactive," said Ramzy Kilic, communications director of the Tampa Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
On May 10, a pipe bomb exploded in the Islamic Center of Northwest Florida in Jacksonville. No worshippers were hurt, but Kilic said the planned burning of Qurans could escalate tensions in the area.
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