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US Pastor calls off his plan to burn the Holy Qur’an

Friday, September 10, 2010 10:42:42 AM, News Desk

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Malegaon: 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 Arab News.

“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 daily.

“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 reporters.

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,” Jones said.”

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 Afghanistan.”

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 statement.

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 Afghanistan.”

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 ahead.

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 countries.







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