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Pastor suspends Qu'ran burning

Pastor Terry Jones’s latest change of mind: the book burning is suspended.

THE EVANGELICAL PASTOR who threatened to burn 200 copies of the Qu’ran on Saturday, to mark the anniversary of the 11 September attacks, has now said that the protest will be suspended.

After initially insisting that the book burning would go ahead no matter what happened, Terry Jones backtracked on Thursday by declaring that the event would be cancelled.

By Friday morning, he seemed to have changed his mind again, however. Jones said the burning was only suspended as, he claims, he had been “lied to” over an alleged deal to call off the protest.

Speaking to reporters in Gainesville, Florida Terry Jones said: “As of right now, we are not cancelling the event, but we are suspending it,” according to reports by The Guardian.

Deal

Jones claims he struck a deal to cancel the protest in exchange for a promise that the planned Islamic centre in Manhattan not go ahead.

Accompanied by Imam Muhammad Musri, head of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, Jones told reporters: “The imam has agreed to move the mosque, we have agreed to cancel our event on Saturday.”

He added: “I, with [Musri], will be flying up [to New York] on Saturday to meet with [Feisal Abdul Rauf] at the Ground Zero mosque.”

The pastor has come under intense international pressure over his plans, with various high-ranking government officials variously calling the plans  “disrespectful”, “disgraceful”, “insensitive” and  “idiotic”.

The US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, David Petraeus, said the action would endanger the lives of American troops abroad, and the FBI said it was likely to “inspire retaliatory attacks against US facilities overseas”.

Even US President Obama came out in condemnation, stating that he hoped Jones understood “that what he’s proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans, that this country has been built on the notion of freedom and religious tolerance”.

He added:

As a very practical matter, I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women who are in uniform… Look, this is a recruitment bonanza for al-Qaeda. You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who’d be willing to blow themselves up in American cities, or European cities…

I hope he listens to those better angels and understands that this is a destructive act that he’s engaging in.

Backtrack welcomed

The cancellation of the plans to burn the holy book was welcomed by religious and political leaders across the Muslim world, who feared that the action would ignite an enormous backlash and further exacerbate already shaky relations with the US.

However, some say that the damage has already been done. Hundreds of protesters flooded the streets in Afghanistan and Pakistan burning Jone in effigy an US flags.

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