Pastor Terry Jones was in New York, ostensibly to have a meeting with the spokesman or a delegate for the real estate group that owns the property know as Park51 (the “Ground Zero Mosque”). Jones hoped to speak with Imam Feizal Abdul Raul about moving the location of the planned community center/mosque that has been the center of controversy for months. Jones’ own controversy, that of his church’s planned burning of the quran, the Muslim holy book, had been set aside. As a self-proclaimed emissary to stop the building of the mosque, Terry Jones also told NBC’s “Today Show” that he would not be burning qurans — ever.
“We will definitely not burn the Quran,” Jones told NBC’s “Today” on Saturday. “Not today, not ever.”
News came of the suspension of the quran burning Thursday after a number of calls from prominent public and political figures for Jones to halt plans to burn the Islamic holy book. He had originally announced he was cancelling the burning, but changed his plans to a “suspension” and a “reconsideration” after it was discovered that an agreement had not been reached to stop the construction of a mosque at Ground Zero, the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. According to Pastor Terry Jones, he was under the impression that an agreement had been made that would see him halting the plans of the Dove World Outreach Center to burn qurans on September 11 in exchange for a promise to relocate the mosque. According to the Imam Feizal Abdul Raul, no agreement had been made.
Pastor Terry Jones said that he still hoped to have a meeting with the real estate group.
Raul, according to CNN, had no plans to meet with Jones on the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. However, he noted that he was not averse to meeting with anyone for peaceful purposes.
Still, Pastor Terry Jones’ trip to New York is the strange denouement of a tale that began with an obscure little church in Gainesville, Florida, and the intent to hold an “International Burn a Quran Day” on September 11. In YouTube videos and — later — during interviews, Jones said it was time that someone stood up to radical Islam. He said he wanted to send a “radical message.”
Just the announcement of the “radical message” being sent via the burning of qurans set off a firestorm of reactionary protests, demonstrations, and condemnations. Religious leaders, including those at the Vatican, condemned the planned burnings. Jones was accused of being an attention-seeker and an extremist. World leaders weighed in. President Barack Obama and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair cautioned Jones against holding the quran burning. Millions decried the planned burnings; millions implored the pastor not to go through with the “International Burn a Quran Day.”
To no avail…
Jones told Chris Matthews at MSNBC’s “Hardball” and CNN’s Anderson Cooper, among others, that he had no intention of not going through with the burning. He even told Matthews that, if his personal hero, former president George W. Bush, called and personally asked him to desist, he would not.
But it was reportedly the promise of the relocation of the Ground Zero Mosque that coaxed the adamant pastor to change his plans. Although many believe the decision came from a combination of the political pressure, public condemnation, and fear (Jones had reportedly received over 100 death threats and had taken to wearing a pistol for his personal protection), it is as yet unclear why the Dove World Outreach Center pastor decided to not burn qurans at his Florida church.
While in New York City, local law enforcement are keeping a watchful eye on him for his personal safety. “His safety could be an issue,” New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told CNN, “and we emphasized that to him last evening. And, he seemed to agree. You know. We would like to make certain that he remains safe while he’s in this city.”
Jones says he believes he has accomplished what he set out to do — call the world’s attention to radical Islam. Jones told the “Today Show,” “We feel that God has told us to stop.”
At least Jones admits to listening to someone…
“Today Show,” NBC Television via CNN.com