Thursday, September 9, 2010

US Koran burning event 'on hold'

US Koran burning event on hold, says pastor Terry Jones

The US pastor who threatened to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11 on Saturday says his plans are not cancelled but "on hold".

A spokesman for pastor Terry Jones said he felt he had been lied to by an imam who had got him to drop the plan.

Mr Jones initially told reporters imam Muhammad Musri had agreed to move an Islamic centre planned near New York's Ground Zero.

But Mr Musri later said no such deal had been reached. BBC

US President Barack Obama had exhorted Jones to “listen to those better angels” and call off his plan.

Obama had told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in an interview aired on Thursday that he hoped pastor Jones would listen to the pleas of people who had asked him to call off the plan. The president called it a ‘stunt.’ “If he’s listening, I hope he understands that what he’s proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans,” Obama said. “That this country has been built on the notion of freedom and religious tolerance.”

Said Obama: “Look, this is a recruitment bonanza for Al-Qaeda. You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

The president had also said Jones’ plan, if carried out, could serve as an incentive for terrorist-minded individuals “to blow themselves up” to kill others.

Pakistan’s president had condemned as “despicable” the plan, saying it would inflame Muslim sentiment across the world, a statement from his office said Thursday.

President Asif Ali Zardari said: “Anyone who even thought of such a despicable act must be suffering from a diseased mind and a sickly soul,” according to the statement.

“It will inflame sentiments among Muslims throughout the world and cause irreparable damage to interfaith harmony and also to world peace,” the statement quoted Zardari as saying.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference had on Thursday said the plan would constitute “an outrageous path of hatred.” Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the 58-member OIC, expressed “grave concern” over the plan, according to an OIC statement.

Saleh S. Al-Wohaibi, the head of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), had expressed fears the plan had the potential of sparking violence in different parts of the world. The WAMY chief said that the burning of the Holy Book could spark anti-American violence, including against US soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Al-Wohaibi called the move a “highly provocative and idiotic act,” but he urged Muslim youths to respond to in a “sensible manner.”

Brig. Gen. Hans-Werner Fritz, the commander of German troops in Afghanistan, had said the burning would “provide a trigger ... for violence toward all ISAF troops, including the Germans in northern Afghanistan.”

Canada’s government had also expressed similar concerns, saying the torching plan “flames intolerance” including toward its own Afghanistan contingent. Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had warned of the impact between the Muslim world and the West in a letter to Obama.

Malaysia had called the ceremony a “heinous” act that represented an attack on Muslims, and called on the US to stop it from going ahead.

India, which has the world’s third largest Muslim population, had called on the US authorities to take “strong action” and for Indian media to impose a blackout on images of the event.

France’s Foreign Ministry had blasted what it called an “incitement to hatred” of Muslims, and “an insult to the memory of the victims of Sept. 11.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman had said he “strongly opposed” any attempt to offend members of a religious group while former Premier Tony Blair described the planned torching as “disrespectful”.

The State Department had ordered US embassies around the world to assess their security ahead of the ceremony amid fears it could spark anti-American violence. It issued a travel alert to caution US citizens of the potential for anti-US demonstrations in many countries. READ MORE

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