Thursday, September 9, 2010

Quran burning canceled; mosque near Ground Zero to move?

GAINESVILLE — The pastor of a Gainesville church said late this afternoon that he is canceling plans to burn copies of the Quran on Saturday.

In return, Dove World Outreach Center Pastor Terry Jones said, he's been assured that the controversial Islamic center planned near Ground Zero in New York will be moved elsewhere.

It could not immediately be confirmed that the New York City religious center was indeed being relocated.

Earlier today, Imam Muhammad Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, said Jones indirectly linked his church's plans to burn copies of the Quran Saturday with the mosque plans during a meeting he had with Musri Wednesday. Musri said Jones indicated that stopping plans for the mosque would also stop his intention of burning copies of the sacred Islamic text.

"He has mentioned that if the project is put on hold that he would not move forward," Musri said.

Musri, who said he believes the proposed New York mosque project should be moved away from Ground Zero, said he has been in contact with New York Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's office and plans to offer Jones the opportunity to meet with Rauf if he cancels the church's plans to burn the Quran.

Musri told reporters of Jones' sentiments this afternoon after he showed up at the Gainesville church again for an unscheduled meeting with the pastor, who has been at the center of international controversy since he declared he and the 50 members of his church planned the Quran burning in commemoration of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Church leaders throughout the week have said that Jones and his members were still praying about whether they would go through with the burning. There were rumors outside the church earlier that Jones would not cancel the plans until he received a call directly from President Obama, but Dove Outreach Assistant Pastor Warren Sapp neither confirmed or denied the rumors this afternoon.

"What I can say is that we are constantly rethinking. We're constantly in prayer, and if God tells us not to do it, then we won't do it," he said.


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