x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Florida pastor calls off burning of Holy Quran

The American clergyman who had organised a mass Quran-burning ceremony scheduled for this weekend called the event off last night.

The Florida pastor who had organised a mass Quran-burning ceremony scheduled for this weekend called the event off last night, with news agencies quoting him as saying he had secured a deal to move a planned Islamic centre in New York away from Ground Zero. The Reverend Terry Jones said that he would be flying to New York tomorrow, Saturday, to meet Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man behind the planned New York Islamic Centre. Mr Jones was quoted as saying: "We have agreed to cancel our event on Saturday and on Saturday I have agreed to meet with the Imam."

He said he decided to cancel his protest because Imam Rauf had agreed to move its controversial location. However, there was no confirmation from Imam Rauf's side. Mr Jones, who runs the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainsville, Florida, had said he would burn copies of the Quran to mark the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The planned Quran-burning had brought protests from around the world, with leaders from the Pope to President Barack Obama condemning it.

The US president called the event a stunt and a recruitment bonanza for al Qa'eda, adding his voice to a growing chorus of condemnation from international leaders. Mr Obama joined the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and Gen David Petraeus, the US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, in describing it as a direct threat to US soldiers. In Kabul, hundreds of angry Afghans had burned an American flag and chanted "Death to the Christians" to protest at the planned burning of Islam's holiest text.

Before Mr Jones announced the cancellation of the Quran-burning, Asif Ali al Zardari, the president of Pakistan, and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the president of Indonesia, had appealed directly to the US president, asking him to stop the Quran-burning. Rehman Malik, Pakistan's interior minister, wrote to the head of Interpol, the international crime-fighting agency, to take action against the book-burning. The heads of state said the planned event at the Dove World Outreach Centre, which has already sparked dozens of protests worldwide, would mark a significant setback for Islamic relations with the West.

Rehman Malik, Pakistan's interior minister, wrote to the head of Interpol, the international crime-fighting agency, to take action against the book-burning. The heads of state said the planned event at the Dove World Outreach Centre, which has already sparked dozens of protests worldwide, would mark a significant setback for Islamic relations with the West. Imams at Al Azhar University in Cairo, one of the world's oldest institutions of religious scholarship and the seat of Sunni Islamic thought, said yesterday that Mr Jones's plans would be a disaster that could provoke angry feelings in the Muslim world. * With agencies