Terry Jones, a pastor from Florida who made headlines when he burned copies of the Qur’an on the anniversary of September 11th, was denied entry to Canada this week as he attempted to enter to attend a debate on free-speech and religion in Toronto.
Jones is the author of a book titled Islam is the Devil and garnered attention for announcing that he was going to burn copies of the Qur’an. In building up toward the event, mass protests against Jones resulted in at least 20 people being killed. He cancelled the event but later went ahead with Qur’an burning in April 2012.
Many media outlets are suggesting that Terry Jones’ views are what kept him out of Canada, but it is actually a criminal record that caused him to be denied entry to Canada.
Jones has a criminal record stemming from an incident in Germany where he used the title “doctor” illegitimately as well as a breaching the peace charge from Detroit.
While both of these decisions were appealed and overturned, Jones could not prove this to border officials and was denied entry to Canada.
It could be assumed that border officials were looking for any reason to keep Jones out of Canada as other people such as Zazir Naik and George Galloway have been barred from entering Canada for controversy outside of Canada. However, because of Jones’ criminal record and inability to prove the charges were overturned, they found it.
Keep in mind that a criminal record that relates to even minor, non-violent offences can get you barred from Canada.
And as an aside, one of the best things about Canada is that everyone is entitled to have their own viewpoints, thoughts and opinions without living in fear or being censored for them.
Even if some of these viewpoints, such as those of Terry Jones, are abhorrent, vile or upsetting to many of us – we cannot have it both ways. We can either have free speech and a society where different viewpoints are allowed, considered and debated, or a society that is the opposite and that is in fact, a society that many new Canadians have come to Canada to get away from.
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