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Pastor undecided on Quran burning
Published on 11 Sep. 2010 12:58 AM IST
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As a Florida pastor made contradictory statements about his plans to burn copies of the Quran on 9/11 anniversary Saturday, President Barack Obama hoped he “prays on it and refrains from doing it”.
Repeating his warning that the controversial event would be the “best imaginable recruiting tool for Al Qaeda”, Obama told a White House press conference Friday: “In the age of the internet, this is something that can cause us profound damage.”
Asked about Pastor Terry Jones’ plans to burn Qurans on the anniversary of the Sep 11, 2001 terror attacks, Obama said: “The idea that we would burn the sacred texts of someone else’s religion is contrary to what this country stands for.
“It’s contrary to what this nation was founded on. My hope is that this individual prays on it and refrains from doing it.”
“But I’m also commander in chief, and we are seeing today riots in Kabul, riots in Afghanistan, that threaten our young men and women in uniform, and so we have an obligation to send a very clear message that this kind of behaviour or threats of action put our men and women in danger.”
Obama said he doesn’t think his administration elevated this story by having Secretary Defense Robert Gates call Jones to persuade him not to go ahead with his controversial plans.
“In the age of the internet, this is something that can cause us profound damage,” he said, “It’s also the best imaginable recruiting tool for Al Qaeda.”
Earlier Jones added to the confusion by first telling CBS that “we have called the event off.” Soon afterward, however, he told reporters in Florida the burning is still being contemplated, according to CNN.
“We are seriously, seriously, seriously considering not burning the Qurans. That is absolutely right,” Jones said. Challenged by a reporter, Jones then said, “Well, we are hoping that we can come to a conclusion.”
“Are you or aren’t you?” a reporter asked, to which Jones replied, “We’re actually not prepared to answer that right now.”
Jones also said he is scheduled to travel to New York on Friday night for a still unscheduled meeting with the imam in charge of the Islamic centre planned near ground zero. The meeting, Jones had said, was part of what convinced him to halt the planned burning.
Jones said the meeting was promised Thursday by local Florida imam Mohammad Musri, who also told him the Islamic center would be moved in exchange for the burning being called off.
But Musri said Friday that he made no such promise, and both Musri and the imam in charge of the centre, Feisal Abdul Rauf, said there was no agreement on a meeting or relocation of the centre.

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