The leader of a tiny church on Thursday backed off his threat to burn the Quran, saying he gave up the plan in exchange for a deal to move a planned Islamic center and mosque away from New York’s ground zero. The imam planning the center, however, quickly denied any such deal.
The Rev. Terry Jones had been under intense pressure to back off, including a statement from President Barack Obama and a personal call from U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Jones made his announcement outside his church alongside Imam Muhammad Musri, the president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida.
After the news conference, Musri told The Associated Press there was an agreement for him and Jones to travel to New York and meet Saturday — on the actual anniversary of the 9/11 attacks — with the imam overseeing plans to build a mosque near ground zero.
“I told the pastor that I personally believe the mosque should not be there, and I will do everything in my power to make sure it is moved,” Musri said. “But there is not any offer from there (New York) that it will be moved. All we have agreed to is a meeting, and I think we would all like to see a peaceful resolution.”
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said he was surprised by the announcement and that he would not barter.Speaking to reporters later, Jones was adamant that he was promised that the Islamic center would be moved, and said he would be “very, very disappointed” if it were not.