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'Koran threat' pastor backs down

A pastor finally bowed to huge international pressure as he backed down from a threat to burn copies of the Koran, saying: "God is telling us to stop."

Terry Jones had announced the stunt in response to plans to build an Islamic centre near to the site of the 9/11 terrorist atrocities in New York.

But, as the world marked the ninth anniversary of the attacks, Mr Jones said his church would not burn the Islamic holy book - "not today, not ever". "We feel that God is telling us to stop," he told NBC.

Pressed on whether his church would ever burn the Islamic holy book, he said: "Not today, not ever. We're not going to go back and do it. It is totally cancelled."

The leader of the 50-member Dove World Outreach Centre in Gainesville, Florida, said his church's intention was "to expose that there is an element of Islam that is very dangerous and very radical". "We have definitely accomplished that mission," he said.

He had flown to New York in the hope of meeting with leaders of the Islamic centre but said no meeting had been scheduled.

Fareed Ahmad, who joined an estimated 15,000 Muslims for prayers at Baitul Futuh Mosque, in Morden, south-west London, said the episode had caused huge "heartache".

"It's welcome news and the right outcome," said Mr Ahmad, a spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community."It's a shame it wasn't resolved earlier as it would have saved a lot of heartache. It has hurt Muslims' sentiment."

US president Barack Obama said the anniversary should be a day not only to mourn the 9/11 victims but to show that Americans "are not at war against Islam". "We're at war against terrorist organisations that have distorted Islam or falsely used the banner of Islam to engage in their destructive acts," he said.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed when Muslim extremists hijacked four planes and flew two into the World Trade Centre and a third into the Pentagon on September 11 2001.


From Belfast Telegraph