Tensions Mount as 9/11 Anniversary Approaches

On Sept. 11, the ninth anniversary of the deadly terror attacks, as family members of those killed in the World Trade Center gather in New York City to read names of their loved ones, a Florida minister and his congregation will stand outside their church and mark the solemn occasion in another way.

Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Church in Gainesville, Fla., will build a bonfire of Korans and set the books ablaze, a statement he says sends a clear and indisputable message.

"We declared 9/11 International Burn a Koran Day," Jones told ABCNews.com. "The reason is to send a warning to Islam, that Sharia law that is not welcome in America. We started this a year ago, when we put a sign outside the church, 'Islam is of the Devil.'"

Jones said more than 100 people will meet at the church to "burn several hundred Korans" and many others around the country will burn the Muslim holy book on their own.

Passion and politics are inseparable from 9/11, but despite the passage of time, the lead up to this year's anniversary has been marked by a volatility and tension unseen since 2001, including protests of planned mosques, threats against Muslims and arsons at mosques.

A perfect storm of emotions may be brewing on the issue. The Muslim holy month of Ramadan ends on the sacred day of Eid, which is dictated by the arrival of a full moon. This year it is scheduled to arrive on or close to 9/11. The simmering tensions have Muslims asking for police protection at their mosques in some cities

Even in the months and years immediately after the 9/11 horror when the outrage and heartbreak were still fresh, the fury directed at Muslims and their institutions did not reach the intensity that has marked community protests and politicians statements this year.

The growing anger is likely stoked by the dragging wars in Iraq and particularly Afghanistan, along with fresh acts of terrorism on U.S. soil, including the foiled Christmas Day and Time Square bomb plots and the massacre of unarmed soldiers at Ft. Hood.

Anti-Muslim feelings were exacerbated when a Muslim group sought permission to build a community center within a block of Ground Zero.

For some, the rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric is tied to a general sense of uneasiness about the economy and those concerns have found voice in an increasingly vocal right wing movement.

Others argue that the increase in venom towards Muslims has also been abetted by what has been missing. While the nation was still in the throes of grief after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush spoke forcefully to nation defending Muslims and warning Americans not to blame the religion or all Muslims, said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Those calls for caution and tolerance have been replaced by much harsher rhetoric. One example was given last month when Tennessee lieutenant governor and gubernatorial candidate Ron Ramsey told a rally, "Now, you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, cult whatever you want to call it."

Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, both potential Republican presidential candidates in 2012, joined the uproar over what critics call the Ground Zero mosque, arguing that it would be an insult to the victims' families and should not be allowed to be built.

"There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia," Gingrich said.

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