April 1, 2011 -- The following is a transcript from ABC News' Bill Weir's interview with Pastor Terry Jones on Jones' response to the United Nations saying their staffers were killed in Afghanistan during a violent protest over his Koran burning. This interview aired on "World News" and "Nightline" on April 1, 2011.
"Nightline" anchor Bill Weir: Everyone from President Obama to Secretary Gates to General Petraeus implored you not to do this and you told us back in September that that actually helped change your mind and backed you off a bit. So why did you go through with this earlier this month? Why did you burn a Koran after all?
Pastor Terry Jones: Well, like you said, we did decide to cancel our "International Burn the Koran Day." We still wanted to make an awareness of the radical element of Islam. We wondered how could we do that. How could we give Islam a fair shake, give them an opportunity? As you realize "International Burn a Koran day," that was of course somewhat of a lopsided story. We had that the Koran was guilty, that we were going to burn the Koran as a protest against the radical element of Islam. After that was canceled, we still wanted to continue our campaign raising an awareness of this dangerous religion and this dangerous element. After this much though we came up with "International Judge the Koran Day." We decided we would put the Koran on trial. We had reps from the Muslim community, we had Imam here. We had people who converted from Islam to Christianity. We had a prosecuting attorney. A defense attorney. And the Koran was put on trial.
Weir: And who was the judge and jury in your trial?
Jones: I was the judge, but I did not determine the verdict. I was just a type of referee to make sure everybody got their fair time to defend the Koran or make a defense against the Koran.
Weir: And who was the jury? Who was the jury -- who condemned the Koran?
Jones: Individuals mainly from around Florida. The jury was open to Muslims, we did have no Muslims on the jury but what we did try to do--like a regular American jury--we did try to make sure the people were not already prejudice or against the Koran. They were to listen to the evidence, like I say we had on both sides of the fence. We had definite authorities concerning the Koran. If the Koran was found not guilty then I was to issue a public apology for our accusations and insults against the Koran.
Jones: If the Koran was found guilty then there were four forms of punishment by which the people could choose. Those forms were burning, shredding, rounding and the Koran would face the firing squad. The one that the people chose was burning--that was why the Koran was burned after it was found guilty.
Weir: So just to be clear in the piece, your jury was made up of random Floridians or members of your congregations or people from your community?
Jones: Made of random people from around Florida -- yes. We put an invitation out to people who wanted to be on the jury, and these were the people who expressed a desire to do that.
Weir: When you got news of today's deadly riots there in Afghanistan, what was the first thought that went through your head?
Jones: Yeah, yeah of course we were very saddened and devastated by that. It is of course a terrible thing anytime anyone is killed. Anytime someone's life is cut short through murder or even accident. I think it definitely does prove that there is a radical element of Islam. I believe we need to take this evidence, we need to take this action and those people and those countries should be held accountable. I believe the U.S. needs to stand up. I believe the UN needs to stand up to countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Muslim-dominated countries. They have been persecuting, killing Christians for generations.
Jones: I believe that it's time that we stand up and force them, encourage them to adapt human rights into their laws, into their constitution and that these types of actions should not be allowed.
Weir: Should you bear any responsibility for inciting today's horrific actions?
Jones: We do not feel responsible -- no. Um, we feel more that the Muslims and radical Islam uses that as an excuse. If they didn't use us as an excuse, they would use a different excuse--
Weir: But don't your actions just make it that much easier--Pastor Jones--for these radical Islamists to incite this sort of thing?
Jones: Do I think it made it easier?
Weir: Yeah, they have a specific incident of an American burning their most sacred text. Doesn't that make it easier for these radicals to incite and spread their murderous hate?
Jones: As I said I definitely believe that they use that as an excuse--
Weir: Then why do it? Why give them that excuse?
Jones: It's an excuse they can use, but it's also not a reason to back down and it's not the reason to point the finger at us. Just because we have done something that offends them. We live in the USA. If my neighbor does something that is offensive to me, no matter what he does, it does not give me to the right to enter into his house and kill him.
Jones: I believe that we definitely have to call these people and these countries into accountability.
Weir: Everybody has done that from the President to the UN. Arrests have already been made for these particular people--Yes, nobody disagrees that they should be brought to justice. But the larger issue--your involvement in all of this come down to whether it is wise incite even more anger and hatred. When you burn the text that 1.3 billion people consider holy, how does that raise awareness of the radical fringe?
Jones: Well, I think we see that very clearly with what they did. And I would strongly disagree that our government or any other government has done anything. They definitely have not--
Weir: It just happened, it just happened a few hours ago.
Jones: People for years and years and we have never forced them to adapt human rights, civil rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion. People who live in those countries are fearful for their lives and we have not done nothing.
Weir: But here's the ironic part to your argument there [cross talk]. The timing of this comes at a time of unprecedented awakening across the Arab world--people are motivated by what you are talking about, democracy, freedom of speech, taking to the streets--not a religious movement, purely a democratic, populist movement, but now this incident--and the headlines will be that this is a result of your actions--may help derail that very thing that you're asking for. Doesn't that strike you as ironic timing?
Jones: I don't think it will do that. As I said, I believe that it is time to raise that awareness. it is time that moderate Muslims who desire to have freedom of speech, freedom of religion--that is truly going on in those countries. It is not an opportunity for the Muslim brother hood or some other radical group to take over. And we think that even moderate Muslims could stand up and they could speak out against Jihad, against Sharia, against the radical element of Islam.