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Pastor calls off Koran burning, but deal for Ground Zero Mosque is denied

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By EMILY FRIEDMAN and CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR
ABC News

NEW YORK, NY (ABC NEWS) -- A fiery Florida pastor called off his bonfire of Korans today after claiming he had a deal that would move a controversial mosque away from the site of the 9/11 terror attacks, but the Muslim cleric planning the so-called "Ground Zero mosque" quickly denied to ABC News that he had agreed to move his project.

Pastor Terry Jones emerged from his church in Gainesville, Fla., along with Florida Imam Muhammad Musri to announce his decision to cancel his Koran burning, saying he viewed the supposed deal as "a sign from God."

The fiery pastor said that Imam Feisal Abdel Rauf, the leader behind the the "Ground Zero mosque" in Manhattan, would meet with him in New York on Saturday.

"He has agreed to move it," Jones said, referring to Rauf's project. "And we have agreed to cancel our event on Saturday.

"Americans don't want the mosque there and of course Muslims don't want us to burn Korans," said Jones.

Rauf, however, told ABC News that there is no deal.

"I am glad that Pastor Jones has decided not to burn any Korans," Rauf said. "However, I have not spoken with Pastor Jones or Imam Musri. I am surprised by their announcement."

"We are not going to toy with our religion or any other. Nor are we here to barter. We are here to extend our hand to build peace and harmony," he said.

"Let's say we moved under this current circumstance with this dialogue," said Rauf. "What will be the headline tomorrow in the Muslim world?"

"'Islam under attack in America.' That's the theme of it. 'Mosque forcibly removed by whatever.' That will feed the radicals. So diffusing terrorism is a necessity for our national security," he said.

A denial also came from the developer of the property.

"The Muslim Community Center called Park51 in Lower Manhattan is not being moved," read a statement from SoHo Properties, the developer of the community center that is being called the Ground Zero Mosque. "The project will proceed as planned."

Asked about the imam's denial of the relocation of the mosque, Jones said he was "lied to."

"I was told exactly [that] the imam would move the mosque from Ground Zero," said Jones. "I have his word he will move the mosque to a different location."

But Musri, head of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, later said he never received word the mosque would be moved. He told The Associated Press he had only arranged a meeting between Jones and Rauf.

"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."

He told CNN that he brokered the conversation between Jones and Rauf by speaking with Rauf's wife, Daisy Kahn.

"The placement of the mosque near Ground Zero is unnecessary and it has become a clear provocation to many people to be violent against mosques across the nation," Musri told CNN.

Pastor Terry Jones Says He'll No Longer Burn Korans

Jones' decision came on a chaotic day during which Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called the pastor in an effort to head off the Koran burning and real estate guru Donald Trump offered to buy out one of the investors of the New York site for 25 percent more than they had paid.

Gates called Jones between 4 and 4:30 p.m. today, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said, and "expressed his grave concerns that going forward with the Koran burning would put the lives of American servicemembers at risk, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he urged him not to proceed with the burning."

President Obama has criticized the proposed burning of Islam's holy book, and White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs today said the planned bonfire of Korans was a "monumentally terrible idea."

In an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" today, Obama called Jones' plan, should he go through with it, "a recruitment bonanza for al Qaeda."

President Obama's Twitter account also tweeted, "Burning a Quran is contrary to our values -- this country was built on the notions of religious freedom and tolerance."

Leaders of Pakistan, Indonesia and India called on the United States to take action to prevent Jones from desecrating the Islamic holy book, and Afghan insurgents were distributing flyers about the Koran burn to turn villagers against Americans.

Earlier today, several FBI agents visited Jones at his church, the Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla.

Jones had vowed to hold an "International Burn a Koran Day" on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

FBI sources told ABC News that the agents were there to brief Jones on all the death threats he's received and to discuss how they would protect him and the church on Saturday.

The event sparked a worldwide debate over what kind of backlash the event may cause.

The international police agency Interpol released a warning to governments worldwide of an increased risk of terror attacks if Jones went ahead with his plan.

Pastor Terry Jones Planned to Burn Korans on 9/11 Anniversary

The U.S. State Department also issued a warning to Americans living and traveling abroad about the potential for violent protests before and after the scheduled burning.

Gainesville Police Department Public Information Officer Cpl. Tscharna Senn declined to detail plans to patrol the event, but said that the department was "taking this very seriously."

"We are very concerned for everyone's safety," said Senn. "However, we have planned and believe that we have a very adequate plan in place to keep [the people of Gainesville] safe."

The estimated cost of the extra security planned for Jones' event was "tens of thousands of dollars," according to Gainesville City Manager Russ Blackburn. Blackburn said he'd "send Pastor Jones the bill."

"We want him to at least be aware of the cost incurred because of his actions," he said.

There also may be early signs of copycats. According to The Associated Press, a Springfield, Tenn., minister said he also plans to burn a Koran on Saturday, saying he thought Jones was "doing the right thing."

ABC News' Matt Gutman, Pierre Thomas and Kirit Radia contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2010 ABC News Internet Ventures

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I

say BURN BABY BURN..while your at it..set up dart boards with Muhammad and place Muhammad urinal cakes for all to pee on!

USA, MY COUNTRY!!!!!

I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK!!!!

I want my country back, I am so tired of the whiners having thier way, even though they are the minority. I want my country back, back to being the roughest toughest, dont care what you think, spit in your face, get out of my way or I will definately mess you up bad son. I want my country back.

I was hoping the guy would burn em down, to heck with what the pope suggests or anyone else in the matter. Guess Ill have to return my plane ticket to florida for the 11th. I wanted to go and watch em all burn, then I was going to urinate on the ashes. DAM STRAIGHT BOY

I dont care about what you whiney losers think. IM AN AMERICAN!!!!! GET IT?

Lets take it back

your truley

light it up

I'm and about gosh darn sick of american boys getting killed over every other country's problems .

i say it's about time for americans to start burning the crap of people that sit around burning our flag and are to ignorant too handle there own problems .

i say pull out troops out for good and let everyone else rot ...and if they mess with us .

nuke there butt!.

i would love too see obama git up ad stage and say due too nine eleven and the ongoing mistreatment of my american citizens .

don't f#$$ with us our we will nuke you,and we ain't doing sh88 for you anymore!

nuke

You do realize that they have nukes too? They are quite capable of nuking the USA or just reeking havoc as in the 9/11 attacks.

As far as them being ignorant, what they are is totally and completely brainwashed by their religion. That is all they know, it is a lifestyle for them and not just on Sunday morning like here. Sick really.

Brilliant.

When has any good come from a book burning?
Don't join the book burners. Don't think you're going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don't be afraid to go in your library and read every book...
Dwight D. Eisenhower

"Where one burns books, One will soon burn people."

It never ceases to amaze me that there are people who are so determined to repeat historical mistakes with such zeal. It goes to show you that people as a collective do atrocious things when they believe right is on their side.

this guy's a FREAK!

This freak is just as CRAZY as any radical Muslim counterpart. Religious radicals are mentally deranged and they give a bad name to the rest of us God loving, understanding and welcoming congregations in this country. Would God burn a Koran? Please! This guy should be in a mental ward somewhere. When he meets his maker, he will be told "YOU HAD IT ALL WRONG" Are we back in the 60's? Gimme a break!

Hate crime

Why is this man not in jail?

He's not in jail because he

He's not in jail because he has not violated any laws....think about it...it will come to you. How many Holy Bibles do you suppose the Muslims have burned? Muslims and Christians have co-existed for a long time in America with few problems. Now, since Bush decided to meddle in the affairs of Muslim countries, we are on the threshold of a round of holy wars.

WHAT????

What? Because Bush meddled in the affairs of Muslim countries? Do you have any idea why Bush did this? It was because of what the ""MUSLIM"" TERRORISTS did on 9/11. I am sick and tired of Americans appeasing these people. I am sick and tired of our leaders giving in to these people. When will we find it politically correct to care about what the American citizens think and believe instead of what people in other countries think? One of the nicest things about the American people is that you are generous and friendly people and because of this you are sometimes naive and overly trusting. You want to be friendly so you open up to people and then you are surprised when they stab you in the back. Many brave soldiers have died in Iraq for this reason. This mentality is a problem with us as citizens and also with the State Department and others in government who fail to understand the true nature of this enemy. American's are nice, we want to accomodate, we want to believe that if we are tolerant of others, they will reciprocate the same towards us.

Recently Sheikh Ibrahim Mdaires delivered a sermon at a mosque in Gaza that was broadcast live to the Arab world where he stated Israel was a cancer, that the Jews were a virus resembling AIDS and the whole world suffers because of them. He stated the Muslims ruled the world once before, and would rule it again. That they would also rule America. This has nothing to do with Bush, it began centuries before Bush was ever born.

In America we have about 24,000 educational institutions. Indonesia alone has 37,362 Muslim Madrassas where Muslim youth are required to memorize the Koran and are taught hatred of (Jews and Christians) mainly Israel and America and any other non-Muslim around the world and are breeding grounds of terrorists. Only 8% have any input from Indonesia's government, the other 92% are controlled by Muslim clerics.

These Muslims won't be stopped by appeasement, they are not interested in political solutions, they don't want welfare, their animosity is not caused by hunger or poverty. They understand only one thing: total and complete conquest of the West and of anyone who does not bow to them and their dangerous and out of date ideology of hate and revenge.

It is unimaginable there are so many people out there that believe Bush started this hatred between the Muslims and any non-Muslim believer. All I can say is you don't know much about history or what is going on in the world today.

Oh, how many people in America protested when our own government burned thousands of copies of our Bible that had been traslated into other languages to be given to Iraqi citizens and soldiers because the Muslim terrorists protested this act of kindness? It was ok for our own government to burn our Bibles, but not ok for a church to burn the Koran? Coming from Muslim religious authorities, this is also the only way for a Koran to be legally destroyed. It is our Constitutional right to do this if we wish. Is it morally the right thing to do? I don't think so.

Bush did what Clinton couldn't

Bush stood up against the muslim wacks that Clinton bent over for.

Bush

I'm not sure why people forget who was president on 9/11. There's another thing that Bush did that Clinton couldn't,and that was blow a surplus and put us in debt.

Yea, I forgot

Wars are really financially inexpensive to operate.

War

Do you mean that war that was unnecessary? We had so many reasons to go to Iraq its a joke. I think the final reason was to liberate Iraq who are the same people (muslims) that all you people are complaining about.I didn't hear any of you cons b**ching then.

On what charge?

You cannot put people in jail for exercising their Constitutional right.

Are you serious?

A hate crime? He won't go to jail because he didn't do anything wrong, even if he does burn a stupid book. If he buys the books, then it's his property. The only thing they can do is fine him for not having a burning permit.
Why don't you try reading the Quran and learn what it says about not tolerating other religions or the people who practice other religions? Then the liberals are going to bend over backwards to accommodate these Muslims who are literally trying to take over Europe and America right now and are succeeding.

maybe someone should go in

maybe someone should go in their country and build a big ol southern baptist church and see what they think.

Yes, why don't some folks go

Yes, why don't some folks go build a Christian church in a Muslim country. All the Christians I hear screaming about how thier rights are getting taken away in America need to go to a Muslim country and see if they can build a Christian church.

BURN IT!!

I don't really understand why it is fair for other countries to burn items we cherish such as lets say.. our American Flag, which they did so right after the 9/11 attacks! But yet when we Christians want to burn a book we get looked down upon? I say BURN IT! BURN THEM ALL!

RE: WOW!

WOW! You are just as much as a freak as the good ole' Florida pastor is. Book burning as sign of intolerance with another belief system is wrong and you call yourself a Christian!! A real Christian would love despite someone's differences. They would seek peace, when Jesus was betrayed he did not get angry, he did not burn down the temple. He chose love!!! A real Christian would put the message of Christ first, not feed into hatred or ignorance and they would not support an action that would further put our troops in danger. A Christian would not feed into the hate that his Pastor is spewing, let along support his message.

Is the sigh of relief

Is the sigh of relief because we did not agree with the decision to burn the book or because we are AFRAID? Few years ago the actions of equally disturbed and despicable persons were defended as “freedom of speech” when they put the crucifix in a jar of urine and another put the picture of the Virgin Mary in elephant dung. While I agree that it will take a lot more than burning the muslim holy book to stop the islamization of America, However I believe the overwhelming condemnation by all those open minded sensitive souls was actually another cowardly act. We do not think twice about offending, desecrating, or disrespecting Judeo/Christian beliefs. So why the sensitivity now. I think we are afraid, and the muslims have won another victory. Burning the book was distasteful but the condemnation by the “Free Speech” lovers was hypocritical and cowardly

Quran burning

We sure don't want to upset the Muslims after 9/11 as they stood by and said nothing.Now they want to build a Mosque near Ground Zero.No we should not burn the Qurans in Florida,they should be burnt at Washington D.C. so Obama can watch it!

Did you know that there are

Did you know that there are Muslims currently serving in our military, fighting the "War on Terror"? I think that says alot more than "nothing".

RE: Hey

Hey Jacka**! Stop drinking the kool-aid Obama is not a Muslim!! Pull your head out of Sean, Rush or Glen Beck's but long enough to hear the facts and think for yourself!!!

What a red-herring!

Regardless of this nutjob's intended actions, the claim that "it will place our troops in danger" is ludicrous.

They are ALREADY in a combat zone and should be prepared for and expecting enemy action 24 x 7....or at least they WOULD be, if we were truly fighting a war and not play acting at war.

In that light we should welcome anything that enrages the Muzz-loons and makes them attack, because it seems that the only time we kill them is when they attack. What happened to that "major offense" we kept threatening? (And why would we ever ANNOUNCE a major offensive???)

Counterinsurgencies don't work. With the exception of the British incursion into Malaysia immediately after they surrendered it as a colony, there is not a single successful third-party led counterinsurgency to be found in history! It didn't work in Vietnam, it didn't work in Iraq and it certainly isn't working in Afghanistan.

Perhaps General Petreaus and boss should worry less about some idiot practicing his right of free speech and more about actually destroying the enemy in Afghanistan.