LONDON – The U.K.-based English Defense League has dropped plans to have a Florida preacher who threatened to burn copies of the Quran speak at one of its rallies next year.
Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center had been scheduled to speak about his views on Islam at the right-wing group’s rally in Luton in February.
In a statement on its Facebook page, the EDL said it was sympathetic to Jones’ views on Islam but had decided not to allow him to speak at its rally because of his views on homosexuality and race.
Speaking on Radio Derby, Guramit Singh of the EDL said: “Although the English Defense League are sincere to what he has to say about Islam, we do not agree with some of his manifesto such as some of his issues with homosexuality and some of his issues with race.
“The EDL is anti-homophobic and we are a non-racism organization.”
When news of his appearance at the rally hit headlines earlier this week, Home Secretary Theresa May said she would consider banning the pastor from entering Britain.
She said the Home Secretary had the right to exclude people who were not conducive to public good or on national security grounds.
A statement on the website of Jones’ church said the EDL had disinvited the pastor “because of pressure from special interest groups.”
The Fla. church also announced that Jones had instead received and accepted invitations to speak at rallies planned by the British National Front.
Jones said earlier in the week that his message would be one of peace. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Program that he would only take part in peaceful rallies.
“I do not advocate violence of any form.”
A YouGov poll on behalf of The Sun newspaper found that more than half of Britons (55 percent) felt Jones should not be permitted entry to the U.K.
Jones is infamous for his “International Burn A Quran Day,” which was scheduled for September 11 this year. It was intended to be a show of opposition to Islam, which Jones considers a “violent and oppressive religion.”
“We only did it because we felt there needed to be an outcry against Islam, because Islam is presenting itself as a religion of peace,” he explained at the time.
“We see the effects of Islam on Europe. As it has done nothing, Islam is beginning to take over there,” he added.
After much outcry from the public and evangelical leaders alike, Jones canceled the Quran burning event days before September 11 and further advised others against burning the holy book of Islam.