Pastor rethinking cancellation of burning

Sept. 10, 2010 at 7:48 AM
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GAINESVILLE, Fla., Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Florida pastor Terry Jones says he was "clearly, clearly" lied to and is reconsidering his decision to cancel the burning of copies of the Koran Saturday.

The pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville said an imam misled him Thursday before Jones announced he would cancel the burning planned for the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Jones said he would "rethink our decision." He said the imam in Florida "clearly, clearly lied to us" about a deal to stop construction of a mosque near Ground Zero in New York.

Muhammad Musri, the Florida imam working with Jones to try to persuade him to call off the Koran burning, said he had brokered a meeting with the project developers in New York, not an agreement to end their plans to build the religious facility within blocks of where the Twin Towers once stood.

In New York, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his partner in the project, Manhattan real estate developer Sharif el-Gamal, said in a statement they had made no deal to stop their plans and had not spoken to Jones or Musri.

U.S. and world political and religious leaders condemned the planned burning of copies of the Muslim holy book. President Obama appealed to Jones to cancel the event during an interview Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"If he's listening, I just hope he (Jones) understands that what he's proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans; that this country has been built on the notions of religious freedom and religious tolerance," Obama said. "We're already seeing protests against Americans just by the mere threat that he's making."

Protesters took to the streets in Afghanistan Thursday, burning effigies, throwing rocks and chanting "Death to America," the Post said.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said in a statement the Koran burning would "inflame sentiments among Muslims throughout the world and cause irreparable damage to interfaith harmony and also to world peace."

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