The Dove World Outreach Center is a small nondenominational church in Gainesville that reportedly has no more than a few dozen members. The church website describes it as a "New Testament Church — based on the Bible, the Word of God."
Its online store sells T-shirts, ball caps and coffee mugs with the phrase "Islam is of the devil." According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks groups espousing intolerance, the 25-year-old church regularly professes antigay and anti-Muslim sentiments, with members at one point joining in a rally with the Westboro Baptist Church, the group that protests gays at military funerals.
Now news of the church's burning of a Koran has apparently incited a mob in Afghanistan to attack a U.N. compound there, killing at least eight foreign staffers.
Last year, the pastor of the church, Terry Jones, had announced he would burn a Koran on Sept. 11. The announcement drew worldwide condemnation, including remarks by President Barack Obama, who in a nationally televised interview asked Jones to reconsider, saying the burning could lead to "serious violence" against American troops in Muslim nations.
The "International Judge the Qur'an Day," a six-hour event, was held March 20, according to church-affiliated websites.
On its websites, the church "accused" the Koran of "inciting murder, rape and terrorist activities."
"If we are proven wrong, we will issue a PUBLIC APOLOGY," a news release before the event said. "Otherwise if the Koran is found guilty, it will be 'executed' in one of the following ways, chosen by an International Poll: 1) Burning 2) Drowning 3) Shredding or 4) Firing squad."
A subsequent release, issued March 22, announced that the Koran was "found guilty and a copy was burned inside the building."
A blog post by JoBeth Gerrard, who attended the event, described it as a mock criminal trial attended by about 50 people: An Egyptian Muslim who converted to Christianity acted as a "prosecuting attorney." Another man, reportedly a devout Muslim from Sudan, served as a "defense attorney," with Jones, the pastor, wearing a black robe and presiding as "judge."
In the end, a 12-person jury found the book guilty on all counts.