A Florida pastor who called off his controversial Quran burning
plan was "rethinking" his position after being told that there was
no deal on moving the proposed Islamic center near New York's
The new twist late Thursday was one
of several on a day when President Barack Obama and Defence
Secretary Robert Gates urged the Rev. Terry Jones to call off the
Quran burning event planned for the ninth anniversary of the Sep
11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
During the afternoon, Jones cancelled his plan to burn copies of
the Quran, based on what he said were assurances from a local
Muslim leader that the Islamic center in New York would be moved
-- an assertion rejected by the center's visionary in New York.
Jones, leader of the Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World
Outreach Center, announced he will travel Saturday to New York to
meet with the religious leader behind the planned mosque, Imam
Feisal Abdul Rauf, about a new location.
Hours later, Rauf and Imam Muhammad Musri, a Florida Muslim leader
who appeared with Jones, said no agreement on a meeting or
relocation of the mosque had been reached.
Wayne Sapp, associate pastor of the small church, told CNN that
the Quran burning scheduled for Saturday was postponed until the
proposed meeting in New York is confirmed.
The church will wait 24 hours to confirm the meeting will take
place before making any further decision about the Quran burning,
The back-and-forth over the mosque location and the meeting
continued into the evening Thursday. Jones insisted he had been
told of a deal on moving the center, but Musri said instead he was
brokering a meeting with Rauf.
"We are cancelling the event because they have agreed to move the
ground zero mosque," Jones said, claiming his announcement was
based on several conversations with Musri.
But the latter said he had not spoken with Rauf and was not
authorised to say the Islamic center would be moved. Jones may
have "stretched" their conversations to say there was a deal,
Musri told CNN. He said he believes Jones knows there was no deal
on the mosque.
Jones' plans to burn the Qurans had set off a firestorm of
concern, including from US military leaders who said the event
would imperil the lives of troops abroad, chiefly Islamic
Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The pastor told reporters Thursday that he took a phone call from
Gates, who "was very gracious and encouraged us not to continue".
The call was later confirmed by CNN.
Also Thursday, real estate mogul Donald Trump offered to buy the
lower Manhattan site where the Muslim group plans to build an
Islamic community center, for 25 percent more than the current
owners paid for it.
Interpol Thursday issued a global alert to its 188 member
countries, warning of a "strong likelihood" of violent attacks if
the Quran burning proceeded.
(Arun Kumar can
be contacted at email@example.com)