Terry Jones Says Quran-Burning Is Off Now Deal's in Place to Move Ground Zero Mosque
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Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville announced late Thursday afternoon that he is canceling the Quran-burning event scheduled for Saturday -- and added that a deal is in place to move a mosque farther away from its planned site a block and a half from where the World Trade Center stood.
Jones said he agreed to cancel the event to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks 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).”
Jones 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 will 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 is why he decided to call off the event.
The mosque near Ground Zero and the planned Quran burnings caused heavy controversy. Throughout the week, political and religious leaders from across the nation and the world condemned Jones for his planned 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 answered before the tense situation that developed during the past week is resolved. After Jones' press conference, Imam Abdul Rauf said he has not agreed to move the mosque but is open to dialogue and "paths to peace."
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