More Drama: Terry Jones Flip-Flops on Quran-Burning; It's Suspended, Not Canceled
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A few hours after announcing he was planning to cancel the Quran-burning event scheduled Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville announced he is reconsidering the cancellation.
The event, he said late Thursday, is only suspended.
While he had agreed to cancel the controversial event, saying he had been assured a deal was in place to move away a mosque to be erected close to where the World Trade Center stood in New York, Jones said it is obvious he was lied to by Imam Muhammad Musri of the Islamic Society of Central Florida.
"Given what we are now hearing, we are forced to rethink our decision," said Jones. "So, as of right now, we are not canceling the event, but we are suspending it."
Only a few hours earlier, with Musri by his side, Jones announced he was canceling the Quran-burning event scheduled for Saturday -- and added that a deal was in place to move a mosque farther away from the planned site, which is a block and a half from where the World Trade Center stood.
Jones said he agreed to cancel the event for no other reason than because a spokesman for an Imam in New York City said the mosque will be moved to a more appropriate location.
“We have thought it over many times,” said Jones at a media conference. “We felt very convinced that we should do this (cancel the Quran-burning event).”
Musri said he had touched base with staffers from Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who was leading efforts to build the mosque in New York.
“He has agreed to move the location,” said Jones. “The Imam has agreed to move the mosque. We have agreed to cancel our event on Saturday.”
Jones added that he would fly to New York on Saturday to meet with the Imam. The pastor said he considers his dialogue with Abdul Rauf to be a sign from God, which was why he decided to call off the event.
But things quickly began to unravel and it appeared that the deal Jones and Musri claimed was in place was nowhere near locked down.
Moments after Jones and Musri announced the deal, a statement from Imam Abdul Rauf was released. In it, he claimed that he had not heard anything about moving his mosque in exchange for Jones quashing a Quran-burning event.
Jones countered by telling the media that, while he has not spoken to Abdul Rauf, he assumed the deal was still in place and would prepare to head to New York on Saturday. Later Thursday night, Jones said that he was only suspending the (Quran-burning) event and not canceling it.
The mosque near Ground Zero and the planned Quran burnings have caused heavy controversy. Throughout the week, political and religious leaders from across the nation and the world condemned Jones for planning the event. Gen. David Petraeus, the American military commander in Afghanistan, warned that the Quran burnings would increase the dangers faced by American servicemen. The Vatican spoke out against the burnings in strong terms.
President Barack Obama spoke out against the Quran burnings Thursday morning, and members of his administration called for Jones to pull the plug on the event. Jones said U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates called him Thursday afternoon, imploring him to cancel it. Jones also received heavy criticism from Republican political leaders, including House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio.
The event was scheduled for Saturday night in Gainesville -- hours after the University of Florida Gators would host the University of South Florida in a football game.
This remains a developing story. All parties involved -- in New York and in Florida -- agree that many questions have to be answered before the tense situation that developed during the past week is resolved.
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