A planned Koran burning event is ‘on hold’ but may still go ahead says the US pastor behind it, claiming he was lied to by a Muslim leader that a proposed Islamic center on New York’s Ground Zero would be moved.
Terry Jones has caused global outrage by planning a ‘burn a Koran’ day to commemorate the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre.
He called off the Koran burning after claiming he had an assurance by local Muslim leader Imam Muhammad Musri that the proposed Islamic center in New York would be moved.
However, Musri has denied ever making such a deal, meaning that the Koran burning event may still happen.
“He’s accusing me of lying to him, which I did not. I was very explicit with him,” said Musri, who is with the Islamic Society of Central Florida.
Imam Musri told CNN that Jones may have made up the story about the Islamic center moving to “save face” and “give himself a reason to call this off.”
President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have waded into the Koran burning furore, urging Jones to call off the Saturday event.
If Jones goes ahead and burns copies of the Koran, the FBI has warned US citizens of an increased risk of attack, while international police organisation Interpol also issued a warning of the risk of violent response.
US general in Afghanistan, Gen David Petraeus said that the Koran burning would endanger the lives of Americans serving abroad and Obama has said that the event would be a “recruitment bonanza for al Qaeda.”
“You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan” as a result of the burning, Obama told ABC.
“This could increase the recruitment of individuals who’d be willing to blow themselves up in American cities, or European cities.”
Jones has defended his Koran burning, telling CNN: “We are burning the book. We are not killing someone. We are not murdering people.”
Afghan president Hamid Karzai said today that Jones “should not even think” of burning the Koran at a provocative event marking 9/11.
“By burning the Koran they cannot harm it. The Koran is in the hearts and minds of one-and-a-half billion people. (But) insulting the Koran is an insult to nations,” Karzai said in an Eid message.