Florida pastor ‘will never burn Koran’

2010-09-11 14:34

Firebrand pastor Terry Jones said his church would never burn the Koran, as he had previously threatened in a move that prompted global condemnation and fears of a backlash against US troops.

“We will definitely not burn the Koran, no,” Jones told NBC television, where solemn ceremonies to mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks were taking place.

“Not today, not ever,” he said after being pressed on whether his Gainesville, Florida, church would carry out the burning at a later date.

Jones was in New York for what he has said was a planned meeting with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Muslim preacher behind plans to build a Muslim community centre and place of worship close to where the World Trade Centre once stood.

But Jones told NBC’s Today show that no such meeting had been set up.

His tiny evangelical church, the Dove World Outreach Centre, was aiming to “expose that there is an element of Islam that is very dangerous and very radical,” the pastor said.

“We have definitely accomplished that mission.”

On Thursday, Jones suspended his plans to burn copies of the Koran after saying he had received pledges the cultural centre would be moved further away from the site of the 9/11 attacks.

Abdul Rauf and others involved in the proposed interfaith centre said they had made no deal and had not arranged a meeting with Jones.

Jones’s plans to torch Islam’s holy book touched off a domestic and international firestorm, with protests across the Muslim world.

US President Barack Obama and Defence Secretary Robert Gates both called on Jones to cancel the event, saying it endangered the lives of US troops stationed in Muslim countries and undermined US principles of religious tolerance.

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