(CNN) — The pastor of a Florida church planning to burn Qurans told CNN Tuesday while the congregation plans to go through with the action to protest the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States by al Qaeda, the church is “weighing” its intentions.
Terry Jones, pastor of Dove World Outreach Church in Gainesville, Florida, who was interviewed on CNN’s “American Morning, said the congregation is taking seriously the warning from the U.S. military that the act could cause problems for American troops.
“We have firmly made up our mind, but at the same time, we are definitely praying about it,” said Jones said.
“We are definitely weighing the situation. We are weighing the thing that we’re about to do. What it possibly could cause. What is our actual message. What are we trying to get across.”
The planned action has drawn sharp criticism from Muslims around the world and U.S. officials.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul on Tuesday issued a statement saying the U.S. government “in no way condones such acts of disrespect against the religion of Islam, and is deeply concerned about deliberate attempts to offend members of religious or ethnic groups.” It emphasized that it strongly condemned “the offensive messages, which are contrary to U.S. government policy and deeply offensive to Muslims especially during the month of Ramadan.”
“Americans from all religious and ethnic backgrounds reject the offensive initiative by this small group in Florida. A great number of American voices are protesting the hurtful statements made by this organization,” the embassy said.
Gen. David Petraeus, the commander in Afghanistan, said the burning of Islam’s holy books “could cause significant problems” for American troops overseas.
“It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan,” Petraeus said in a statement issued Monday.
With about 120,000 U.S. and NATO-led troops still battling al Qaeda and its allies in the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban movement, Petraeus warned that burning Qurans “is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems — not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community.”
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