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Pastor firm on Quran-burning on Sept.11
Published on 9 Sep. 2010 12:24 AM IST
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A Christian minister vowed Tuesday to go ahead with plans to burn copies of the Quran to protest the Sept 11 terrorist attacks despite warnings from the White House and the top US general in Afghanistan that he would endanger American troops overseas.
Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center, which has about 50 members, said he understands the government’s concerns but plans to go forward with the burning Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the attacks.
He left the door open to change his mind, saying he is still praying about his decision, which was condemned Tuesday by an interfaith coalition that met in Washington to respond to a spike in anti-Muslim bigotry.
Gen. David Petraeus warned in an e-mail to The Associated Press that “images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan - and around the world - to inflame public opinion and incite violence.”
State department spokesman PJ Crowley echoed that, calling the plan to burn copies of the Quran “un-American” and saying it does not represent the views of most people in the US.
Jones told the AP in a phone interview that he is also concerned but wonders how many times the US can back down.
“We think it’s time to turn the tables, and instead of possibly blaming us for what could happen, we put the blame where it belongs - on the people who would do it,” he said. “And maybe instead of addressing us, we should address radical Islam and send a very clear warning that they are not to retaliate in any form.”
Jones, who runs the small, evangelical Christian church with an anti-Islam philosophy, says he has received more than 100 death threats and has started wearing a .40-caliber pistol strapped to his hip.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has condemned the planned burning of Qurans on the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on the United States as criticism mounts from Muslims around the world. Speaking Tuesday at an iftar meal in Washington to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Clinton said she welcomed the concerns, CNN reported. “I am heartened by the clear, unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful, disgraceful act that has come from American religious leaders of all faiths ... as well as secular U.S. leaders and opinion makers,” she said.
On Wednesday the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan also condemned the Florida church’s plan to burn the Quran, the Muslim holy book, as “disrespectful, intolerant and divisive,” in a statement. The interfaith group of evangelical, Roman Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim leaders meeting in Washington condemned Jones’ plan to burn the Quran as a violation of American values and the Bible.

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