Marietta woman was juror in "trial" that convicted Quran

Jobeth Gerrard, of Marietta, said she first learned about Pastor Terry Jones last year when the Florida minister was interviewed on the Sean Hannity Show. Curious about the Dove World Outreach center, she drove to Gainesville to worship with Jones’s congregation.

Gerrard, 53, said she remained in contact with the church and later was asked to serve on the jury in the recent “mock trial” against the Quran. She and others found the Muslim holy book guilty of such charges as inciting terror and killing; inciting prejudice against different races and religions; and mistreatment of women, she said. Gerrard witnessed the burning of the Quran on March 20.

Reached at her home Friday, Gerrard said she had not yet heard of the attacks on United Nations workers in Afghanistan, but denied there could be any link to the Quran’s burning.

“That’s the excuse du jour. … They aren’t linked,” she said. “Don’t even try tying them together. It’s just pointless. They’re killing people every week over there.”

Gerrard said she was aware that international leaders had previously pleaded with Jones not to burn the Quran. She said she knew that Jones had received messages from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Gen. David Petraeus and Pope Benedict XVI, among others.

“And I said, what is wrong with this picture that the whole international community, and everybody is getting involved? Why are they so terrified of this little guy in Florida with a Quran in a little no-nothing church?” she said. “We are told that Muslims are peaceful and we don’t have a Muslim problem. Why are they all freaking out about this? Don’t we have free speech?”

Gerrard described the trial as “anti-climactic” and said it lasted about five and a half hours.

The trial was conducted largely in Arabic and thus was translated for the jurors, she said. The evidence presented came from passages of the Quran.

Testimony also was taken from witnesses on both sides of the issue, according to Dove Outreach’s website. Jones presided as judge.

Gerrard said she became involved because she wanted to learn more about the persecution of non-Muslims and Sufi Muslims, who she believes are persecuted.

“I feel like I have the obligation to hear them. I know they’re ignored and marginalized in their Muslim countries,” she said. “We should be hearing them and listening to them because they are telling us what is going on over there.”