A Florida pastor who made headlines for threatening to burn the Koran was asked Thursday to stay away from UC Irvine, where he had planned to speak to students in front of a school library.
Campus police said they asked the Rev. Terry Jones not to come on campus after receiving information about suspicious activity associated with the visit that raised safety concerns. Several areas on campus, including Aldrich Hall where the university's administration is housed, were closed.
Jones, who threatened to burn the Koran on the anniversary of of the September 11 terrorist attacks and eventually did so in March, had applied for a permit to speak at an area near the campus flagpoles but was denied permission because another organization had already applied for the same time slot.
Instead, several students waited for the pastor in front of Langson Library, some sitting on blankets.
Soraya Azzawi, a third-year student, said she understood the security concerns.
"I'd say the security concerns are definitely valid if he's incited violence and used hate speech before," she said.
Ilgiz Khismaov, a UC Irvine graduate and a Muslim, came on campus to see how students were responding.
"He came here to stir hatred and raise tension," he said. "The awesome thing is that Jewish and Muslim students have come together against it."
Elsewhere on campus, students hurried to class between breaks or tapped at laptops outside the student center, seemingly unmoved by the pastor's promised visit.
Chris Nguyen, a freshman, said he didn't know about Jones' visit until he heard about it in his Asian American Studies discussion. Nguyen said his discussion leader used the event as an example of how prejudice still exists.
School officials said that arresting Jones would have been an option had he come on campus.