Pastor's agreement to call off 9/11 Koran burning beset by confusion
Pastor Terry Jones said he would cancel his planned Koran burning and travel to New York to discuss the location of the mosque near ground zero. But it's unclear what has been agreed to.
The Florida preacher who captured the attention of the world with a threat to burn 200 copies of the Koran on Saturday has called the protest off, apparently as part of an attempt to move the location of a planned Islamic cultural center near ground zero in New York.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
In a dramatic shift on Thursday evening, Terry Jones of the 50-member Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., said he would be flying to New York on Saturday to talk to Muslim officials about moving the facility farther away from the former site of the World Trade Center.
Pastor Jones had scheduled his Koran-burning protest for Saturday, the ninth anniversary of 9/11, and tensions were rising across the Islamic world.
Until Thursday afternoon all efforts to convince the pastor to cancel the protest had failed – including comments by President Obama warning that the book burning would provide a recruiting bonanza for Al-Qaeda and endanger US troops overseas.
A solution, confusion, and Donald Trump
The logjam apparently broke during a meeting with a Muslim leader from central Florida who asked Jones what it would take to convince him to call off the Koran burning.
Jones later recounted his version of the conversation to reporters: “If they were willing to either cancel the mosque at the ground zero location, or if they were willing to move it away from that location, we would consider that a sign from God,” Jones said.
Jones said he received assurances from the central Florida Muslim leader, Imam Muhammad Musri, that the mosque near ground zero in New York would be moved.
“The American people do not want the mosque there and, of course, Muslims do not want us to burn the Koran,” Jones said. “The imam has agreed to move the mosque. We have agreed to cancel our event on Saturday. And on Saturday I will be flying up there to meet with him.”
Imam Musri later clarified that the agreement was for a meeting to discuss the mosque issue, rather than an agreement that the mosque would be moved.
In New York, there was no indication of a deal to move the mosque near ground zero. Both Reuters and NBC reported there was no deal. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was celebrating the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah and was not working on Thursday, but his press office said they had no information that the mosque might be moved. Neither Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf nor his wife Daisy Khan returned phone calls.
Separately, Donald Trump, the self-promotional businessman, says he has offered the developer of the project, Hisham Elzanaty, $6 million for the land. As part of any deal, the developers of the mosque would have to move it at least five blocks farther from ground zero, Mr. Trump told Bloomberg News.