A renegade pastor and his tiny flock set fire to a Koran on a street corner, and made sure to capture it on film. And they were ignored.
That stunt took place in 2008, involving members of the Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kan., an almost universally condemned group of fundamentalists who also protest at military funerals.
But plans for a similar stunt by another fringe pastor, Terry Jones, have garnered worldwide news media attention this summer, attention that peaked Thursday when he announced he was canceling — and later, that he had only “suspended” — what he had dubbed International Burn a Koran Day. It had been scheduled for Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Unlike the Koran-burning by Westboro Baptist, Mr. Jones’s planned event in Gainesville, Fla., coincided with the controversy over the proposed building of a Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan near ground zero and a simmering summerlong debate about the freedoms of speech and religion.
Mr. Jones was able to put himself at the center of those issues by using the news lull of summer and the demands of a 24-hour news cycle to promote his anti-Islam cause.