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Koran-burning U.S. pastor barred from entering Canada for debate

Florida pastor Terry Jones talks with reporters before holding a demonstration asking for a ban on sharia law in the U.S., on the steps of D
Florida pastor Terry Jones talks with reporters before holding a demonstration asking for a ban on sharia law in the U.S., on the steps of D

TORONTO (Reuters) - The U.S. pastor known for burning Korans and inciting unrest in the Middle East was barred on Thursday from entering Canada, where he was set to attend a potentially divisive debate with a imam, Canadian media reports said.

Terry Jones was blocked at the U.S.-Canada border in Windsor, Ontario, because of a previous legal infraction in the United States and because the German government has issued a complaint against him, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp said.

Jones told the CBC that he would seek legal counsel on whether to appeal what he said was a "grievous act" against free speech.

"We are going to head back to Florida now and we are going to check whether we are going to appeal that," he said.

The Canadian government said it does not comment on individual cases and that border officials determine the entry of any individual on a case by case basis.

"Every person seeking entry to Canada must demonstrate that they meet the requirements to enter the country," said Julie Carmichael, spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.

Jones was scheduled to debate a Toronto imam, a Sikh leader and a Muslim author on Thursday evening on the grounds of the Ontario provincial legislature in Toronto, according to local organizers.

The once little-known pastor sparked riots in Afghanistan two years ago when he burnt copies of the Koran to mark the anniversary of Sept 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York.

He also promoted the film "Innocence of Muslims" this year, which Muslims said insults the Prophet Mohammed. The film sparked unrest across Middle East.

The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three embassy staff were killed in September when Islamist gunmen, blaming the U.S. government for the film, stormed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

(Reporting by Russ Blinch; Editing by Peter Galloway)

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