Friday, September 10, 2010

US Koran burning event on hold, says pastor Terry Jones

US pastor Terry Jones initially said that the Koran burning had been cancelled

The US pastor who threatened to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11 on Saturday says his plans are not cancelled but "on hold". Florida pastor Terry Jones said he felt he had been lied to by a local imam who had got him to drop the plan - which has caused international outrage. Mr Jones initially said the imam had told him an Islamic centre planned near New York's Ground Zero would be moved. But the imam, Muhammad Musri, denied such any such deal had been reached. Mr Musri, from the Islamic Society of Central Florida, said he had only agreed that he and Mr Jones should fly to New York on Saturday and speak with the leaders of the Islamic centre project. Mr Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, which has fewer than 50 members, had named Saturday "International Burn a Koran Day".

On Thursday, announcing the purported deal to relocate the Islamic centre in New York, he said he was dropping the plans and urged his supporters to do the same. But later the imam in charge of the centre, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, said he had not talked to Mr Jones or Mr Musri about the issue. Mr Musri said Mr Jones had "stretched his words" when he held a news conference outside his church. Mr Jones responded by saying: "Given what we are now hearing, we are forced to rethink our decision, so as of right now, we are not cancelling the event, but we are suspending it." He also said he expected Mr Musri to "keep his word" and expected "the imam in New York to back up one of his own men". US Defence Secretary Robert Gates had called the pastor and asked him to cancel the event. The top US general in Afghanistan, Gen David Petraeus said that if the Koran burning went ahead it would endanger the lives of Americans serving abroad.


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