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Arts / Culture

Controversial Pastor Opens Fry Stand in Bradenton Mall

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Credit Ian Britton/Flickr

A controversial pastor, who appears on a widely-distributed al-Qaida hit list, has opened up a shop in a Bradenton mall.

His business raises questions over safety and free speech.

Rev. Terry Jones and his church are most known for burning a Quran in Gainesville in 2011.

After the recent attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, an al-Qaida hit list resurfaced. Jones’ face is on that list along with a cartoonist who was killed in the attack.

So, it was a surprise for Bradenton Herald business reporter Charles Schelle when he was tipped off that Jones was also working at a French fry stand in the DeSoto Square Mall. And there, an illustration of Jones and his partners’ faces was on also on display.

“Up above the fryer in the back were these three large portraits that he thought were supposed to look cartoonish and thought he wasn't supposed to look too recognizable when he had the artist draw them. But, honestly they look more like police mugshots,” he said.

Jones and his business partners setup Fry Guys Gourmet Fries. Schelle said the mall’s general manager didn’t know of Jones’ reputation and that law enforcement also wasn’t aware of his recent business venture.

While reporting his story, Schelle said the reaction he got from some of the people he interviewed was that they didn’t agree with Jones’ views. But, they felt terrorist attacks could happen anywhere.

One man Schelle spoke with who was in the National Guard said he probably won’t return to eat at the food court.

“The man said, 'Once you start causing safety concerns and security issues for other people because of your speech, then that’s where the line is drawn,'” Schelle said.

As for that sign with Jones’ face, he agreed to take it down.

Schelle said more people have been checking out the stand because of the attention. Although, Schelle personally hasn’t tried the fries.

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