The stage is set for a showdown in Toronto this week between Qur'an-burning Florida pastor Terry Jones and Toronto imam Steve Rockwell, if Jones is allowed to cross the Canadian border.
In what an organizer calls "a fantastic night for free speech," Jones and Rockwell will meet at a rally on the lawn at Queen's Park in front of the Ontario legislature on Thursday evening, according to QMI Agency.
Jones is slated to talk about his promotion of the The Innocence of Muslims, a controversial film almost no one, including Jones, has seen except for a lengthy trailer posted on YouTube. The crudely-made movie, spearheaded by a convicted California fraudster, sparked a deadly backlash in the Muslim world.
Event organizer Allan Einstoss told QMI that Jones will talk about whether the movie is "appropriate enough to be shown.
"We also have people champing at the bit from the Muslim community who would like to debate or speak in rebuttal to Pastor Jones. It's a fantastic night for free speech."
The event is being organized by the groups Canadians United Against Terror and For The Love of Our Charter.
The latter group purports to be dedicated to educating Canadians about their Charter rights, but its Facebook page seems devoted to sounding alarm bells about creeping Islamic influence in Canada.
It's billing Thursday's event as a memorial in honour of Chris Speer, the U.S. army medic Canadian teenage terrorist Omar Khadr was convicted of killing during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan. The program includes speeches by Jones and Rockwell, director of the Sheikh Deidat Mosque, as well as other speakers from Muslim, Christian and Hindu faiths.
Jones, though, isn't sure he'll be allowed to enter Canada.
After threatening to do it several times, the head of the fundamentalist Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., burned several copies of the Qur'an last April. He was fined $217 for unauthorized book burning. It's not clear whether the conviction is enough to bar him at the border.
"I am concerned about crossing the border," Jones told the Toronto Sun on Monday. "I know that Canada and England have strong and close ties."
The reference apparently is to the fact Jones has been banned from Britain, as well as Germany.
Jones claims to have received 400 death threats and that he has a $6.4-million bounty on his head.
In an interview with Britain's Daily Telegraph, Jones conceded The Innocence of Muslims was a crappy film, perhaps deliberately so to provoke a reaction from the Muslim community.
"But he [the film's producer] said he it was not his intention, and nor is it mine, to insult Muslims," Jones said. "He wanted to raise awareness of the film and the dangers of radical Islam."
Jones has a regular body guard and has taken to wearing a pistol, something he won't be allowed to do if he enters Canada. It doesn't worry him.
"Canada is very important to us," Jones told the Sun. "We consider Canada a very secure place."
Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) would not comment to the Sun about Jones, citing privacy rules. But front-line officers told the paper he could be barred for a number of reasons, including prior criminal convictions, breach of hate laws and the fact he's banned in other countries.
They also said Jones will be searched for weapons and other contraband, such as copies of the controversial film that might contravene Canadian laws against promotion of hatred against an identifiable group.