A Florida pastor called off Thursday a Qur’an-burning ceremony
scheduled for this weekend, claiming he had secured a deal to move
a planned mosque in New York away from Ground Zero, reports
“I will be flying up there on Saturday to meet with the imam at
the Ground Zero mosque. He has agreed to move the location,” Terry
Jones told journalists outside his small evangelical church in
Gainesville, Florida, according to the leading Saudi Arabian
“We felt that would be a sign that God would want us to do it. The
American people do not want the mosque there, and, of course,
Muslims do not want us to burn the copies of Qur’an.”
“We are, of course, now against any other group burning copies of
the Qur’an,” Jones said during a news conference. We would right
now ask no one to burn copies of the Qur’an. We are absolutely
strong on that. It is not the time to do it.”
However, organizers behind plans for the Islamic cultural center
and a mosque near the World Trade Center site denied the pastor’s
claim that they had decided to move the project elsewhere.
“We don’t know anything about it,” Daisy Khan, one of the main
promoters of the proposed cultural center and mosque and also the
wife of imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, man behind the project, told
Jones said Imam Muhammad Musri of the Islamic Society of Central
Florida told him that officials would guarantee that the mosque
would be moved. “I asked him three times, and I have witnesses,”
Musri thanked Jones and his church members “for making the
decision today to defuse the situation and bring to a positive end
what has become the world over a spectacle that no one would
benefit from except extremists and terrorists” who would use it to
recruit future radicals.
Earlier, the pastor had his website pulled from the Internet, the
hosting company said on Thursday.
Dan Goodgame, a spokesman for popular Web host Rackspace Hosting,
said two websites operated by the Dove World Outreach Center, the
tiny Gainesville, Florida church run by pastor Terry Jones, were
shut down late on Wednesday.
Jones had earlier implied the only way he would back down if he
received a phone call directly from the White House asking him not
to proceed with his plan. The international police agency Interpol
had warned governments worldwide on Thursday of an increased risk
of terror attacks if the plan went ahead.
“If the proposed Qur’an burning by a pastor in the US goes ahead
as planned, there is a strong likelihood that violent attacks on
innocent people would follow,” Interpol said in a statement,
adding that it was acting partly on a request from Pakistan.
US President Barack Obama had exhorted Jones to “listen to those
better angels” and call off his plan.
Obama had told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in an interview aired
on Thursday that he hoped pastor Jones would listen to the pleas
of people who had asked him to call off the plan. The president
called it a ‘stunt.’ “If he’s listening, I hope he understands
that what he’s proposing to do is completely contrary to our
values as Americans,” Obama said. “That this country has been
built on the notion of freedom and religious tolerance.”
Said Obama: “Look, this is a recruitment bonanza for Al-Qaeda. You
could have serious violence in places like Pakistan and
The president had also said Jones’ plan, if carried out, could
serve as an incentive for terrorist-minded individuals “to blow
themselves up” to kill others.
Pakistan’s president had condemned as “despicable” the plan,
saying it would inflame Muslim sentiment across the world, a
statement from his office said Thursday.
President Asif Ali Zardari said: “Anyone who even thought of such
a despicable act must be suffering from a diseased mind and a
sickly soul,” according to the statement.
“It will inflame sentiments among Muslims throughout the world and
cause irreparable damage to interfaith harmony and also to world
peace,” the statement quoted Zardari as saying.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference had on Thursday said
the plan would constitute “an outrageous path of hatred.”
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the 58-member OIC,
expressed “grave concern” over the plan, according to an OIC
Saleh S. Al-Wohaibi, the head of the World Assembly of Muslim
Youth (WAMY), had expressed fears the plan had the potential of
sparking violence in different parts of the world. The WAMY chief
said that the burning of the Holy Book could spark anti-American
violence, including against US soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Al-Wohaibi called the move a “highly provocative and idiotic act,”
but he urged Muslim youths to respond to in a “sensible manner.”
Brig. Gen. Hans-Werner Fritz, the commander of German troops in
Afghanistan, had said the burning would “provide a trigger ... for
violence toward all ISAF troops, including the Germans in northern
Canada’s government had also expressed similar concerns, saying
the torching plan “flames intolerance” including toward its own
Afghanistan contingent. Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono had warned of the impact between the Muslim world and
the West in a letter to Obama.
Malaysia had called the ceremony a “heinous” act that represented
an attack on Muslims, and called on the US to stop it from going
India, which has the world’s third largest Muslim population, had
called on the US authorities to take “strong action” and for
Indian media to impose a blackout on images of the event.
France’s Foreign Ministry had blasted what it called an
“incitement to hatred” of Muslims, and “an insult to the memory of
the victims of Sept. 11.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman had said he
“strongly opposed” any attempt to offend members of a religious
group while former Premier Tony Blair described the planned
torching as “disrespectful”.
The State Department had ordered US embassies around the world to
assess their security ahead of the ceremony amid fears it could
spark anti-American violence. It issued a travel alert to caution
US citizens of the potential for anti-US demonstrations in many