Controversial plans by a US pastor to burn copies of the Koran on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks have been canceled following worldwide condemnation.
In a sensational twist, pastor Terry Jones has claimed he will be flying to New York on Saturday to meet the Iman responsible for the proposed Ground Zero mosque and cultural centre where they will discuss a possible relocation.
In tonight’s shock press conference, Jones said: “Our thought was the American people do not as a whole want the mosque at Ground Zero.
“If they were willing to cancel the mosque at the ground zero location or if they were willing to move that location, we would consider that a sign from God.
“We have been in contact with the imam in New York City. I will be flying up on Saturday to meet with the imam at the Ground Zero mosque. He has agreed to move the location.”
“The Americans don’t want the mosque and Muslims don’t want us to burn the Koran. They have agreed to move the mosque and we have agreed not to burn the Koran.”
However, sources close to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf have denied there has been any agreement to relocate the proposed mosque.
AFP news agency quoted Daisy Khan, wife of the imam behind the project, as saying: “We don’t know anything about it.”
For the past week the world’s media has been centred around the Florida city of Gainsville where pastor Jones has a congregation of no more than 50. His threats to burn copies of the Koran had led to security fears for Americans in Muslim countries.
Speaking this morning, President Barack Obama said the proposed event was a “recruitment bonanza” for al Qaeda and that there “could be serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan.”
The US State Department had advised Americans to avoid areas where protests might take place.
Leading Muslim authority Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri added: “It will not only hurt the feelings of 1.5 billion Muslims but also of billions of peace-loving people belonging to different religions and cultures of the world. Such an act is deeply offensive and will increase divisions and hatred.”
Foreign Secretary William Hague slammed the pastor’s plans describing the proposed event as “offensive, not only to Muslims, but to everyone across the world who believes in religious freedom.”