written by Dan Wooding
GAINSVILLE, FL (ANS) -- Terry Jones, the pastor of a small Florida church who had planned to burn copies of the Koran (Qur’an) on Saturday, September 11, 2010, the ninth anniversary of 9/11, has cancelled his protest.
Jones said he was calling off the event after the group behind a planned Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York had agreed to relocate it.
“But the cultural center’s organizers said they had no plans to move it,” said a BBC story.
Jones’ plan had been internationally condemned by both Christian and secular leaders and had already sparked many protests around the world.
According to the BBC, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates had telephoned Jones to urge him to reconsider his plans. The pastor had also been visited several times by the FBI.
Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, which has fewer than 50 members, had named Saturday as “International Burn a Koran Day.”
But at a news conference today (Thursday, September 9, 2010,) Jones said that he was now dropping the plans and urged his supporters to do the same.
“We would right now ask no one to burn Korans. We are absolutely strong on that. It is not the time to do it,” he said.
The controversial pastor said he would travel to New York on Saturday to meet those behind the Islamic center, saying they had “agreed to move the location.”
“The American people do not want the mosque there, and, of course, Muslims do not want us to burn the Koran,” he added. “If it's not moved, then I think Islam is a very poor example of religion. I think that would be very pitiful. I do not expect that.”
The BBC went on to say that Mr. Jones was joined at his news conference by Muhammad Musri from the Islamic Foundation of Central Florida.
Mr. Musri said he and Mr. Jones had committed to travelling to New York “to come to a decision on moving the mosque.”
“We are committed to dissolving the situation here and there,” he added.
He also thanked Jones for his “courage and his willingness to take these serious events that are unfolding.”
But now there is confusion about the situation. The organizers of the New York center said that no agreement had been reached with Mr. Jones.
Leader of the New York project, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, issued a statement saying he welcomed the cancellation of the Koran burning.
“However, I have not spoken to Pastor Jones or Imam Musri,” he said. “We are not going to toy with our religion or any other. Nor are we going to barter. We are here to extend our hands to build peace and harmony.”
The BBC then said that Mr. Musri clarified to reporters that no guarantees about moving the Islamic center had been given.
He and Jones had only agreed to fly to New York to discuss the location of the Islamic center with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.
Plans for the Islamic centre have prompted fierce debate in the US because of its proximity to the scene of the 9/11 terror attacks.
President Barack Obama had earlier warned Mr. Jones that the proposed burning would be “a recruitment bonanza” for al-Qaeda.
The US State Department had warned US citizens of an increased risk of attack, while international police organization Interpol also issued a warning of the risk of a violent response if the Koran burning took place.