Florida Pastor Agrees To Cancel Quran Burning Event
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
Reverend Terry Jones, the Gainesville pastor who planned to burn copies of the Quran this weekend, has now called that action off. And we're joined from Gainesville by NPR's Greg Allen, who's covering the story.
Greg, what's happened?
GREG ALLEN: Well, Melissa, just moments ago, Terry Jones came out of the church after having a meeting with an imam from central Florida - Muhammad Musri, who was here yesterday to meet with him. At the time, apparently, they spoke how in that - Jones said in his mind the burning of the Qurans was linked with the plan for an Islamic center near the World Trade Center, New York. That's the first that we've heard that when Muhammad Musri told us that about that today.
He went in and spent some time speaking with Terry Jones, and they came out and they announced that the Quran burning that was scheduled for this Saturday's anniversary of 9/11, that it's been called off in Gainesville. It's not going to happen. Instead, they're going to be flying to New York to meet with the Islamic leaders who are planning that Islamic center there near the World Trade Center.
BLOCK: And has there been any confirmation from the imam in New York that what Terry Jones is saying here is in fact the case, which is that he has agreed to move the location of that Islamic center?
ALLEN: No. As of yet, we've not heard directly from the imam in New York himself. We know from Imam Musri here - Muhammad Musri - he spoke to people within the imam's office earlier, set up a meeting with the New York imam. Now, apparently, they've made some - they have some agreement in principle here that the World Trade Center will be moved. But, as you say, we have no confirmation of that from their side yet.
BLOCK: Well, let's talk a bit about Terry Jones here. This is - his church is the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, and you've been spending some time up there, it's a tiny church with a tiny congregation, right?
ALLEN: That's right. And they - you know, they're fairly well known in this neighborhood but not at large in Gainesville. They really became better known over the last year when they started putting signs up saying Islam is of the Devil, and there have been some other provocative things that have made them known locally. It wasn't until that Terry Jones started putting out the word that he had this plan - a burn-a-Quran-day plan for 9/11 that started to get wider attention. That came to the dismay of people here who thought he was their own private problem.
Now, it turned to a very major international incident that involved - we've had protests and demonstrations in Afghanistan, Indonesia and other places. Now, we have the State Department putting out warnings for travelers abroad. It's clear it's become an international incident that we hope might be resolved somewhat by the action here today.
BLOCK: And there were reports earlier that there were people - apparently, federal officials of some sort who had gone into the church. Do you know anything about that?
ALLEN: Yeah. We're here this morning when two carloads of FBI officials showed up and would only identify themselves as FBI and go in and come out. They wouldn't tell us what they were here about. You know, the speculation could only be it might be about security, but it could be about a lot of things. And there certainly were a lot of FBI agents for taking care of the security preparations. So - but at the same time, we know that that Terry Jones has been receiving calls from officials in Washington, so I think he's been hearing from all kinds of people today and that might have played some factor in the decision here to call off the Quran burning.
BLOCK: Okay, Greg, thanks very much.
ALLEN: My pleasure.
BLOCK: That's NPR's Greg Allen in Jacksonville.
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