Listen Live
Praise Featured Video

(AOL) (Sept. 10) — Florida fundamentalist preacher Terry Jones continued to give conflicting signals today about his on-again, off-again Quran burning, as doubt and controversy surround an event that has already triggered violent protests and injuries.

Jones told NBC’s “Today” show this morning that he would not go through with Saturday’s planned destruction of Islam’s holy book on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks if he is able to meet with the imam behind the project to build a Muslim community center in Manhattan near ground zero.

Thousands of demonstrators are holding anti-American rallies today across Afghanistan, burning U.S. flags and chanting “Death to Christians!” because of Jones’ plans. One man was initially reported shot dead as a crowd of stone-hurling demonstrators tried to attack a NATO base in northern Afghanistan, but authorities now say 11 people have been injured but none died.

Jones’ bonfire of Qurans — deemed blasphemous by Muslims and condemned by the likes of everyone from President Barack Obama to Angelina Jolie — was scheduled for the ninth anniversary of the attacks. But the Gainesville, Fla., pastor, who counts barely 30 faithful in his flock, has wavered about whether it will go on.

Jones said Thursday that he’d scrapped his plans, but then reversed himself again, saying he’d only agreed to cancel the event in exchange for a promise that the Muslim center would be moved from its planned site two blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood.

“He said if we cancel our event, the mosque in New York will be moved,” Jones said on the “Today” show, referring to Florida imam Muhammad Musri, whom Jones said he believed was brokering the deal.

But the New York imam behind the so-called “ground zero mosque,” Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, said that he hasn’t been in contact with either Jones or Musri, and that no such promise was made.

“I was lied to,” Jones told NBC this morning.

Musri denied telling Jones that the Manhattan community center would be moved. “He’s accusing me of lying to him, which I did not. I was very explicit with him,” Musri told CNN. He suggested that the pastor hatched the story “to give himself a reason to call this off.”

Jones has described his Quran-burning event as merely suspended, not canceled. But he told NBC he still intended to travel to New York to meet with Rauf on Saturday — the day the event was to take place.

The embattled preacher’s latest statements came as some of his announcements and plans appeared to be unraveling. It’s unclear whether Jones has an airline ticket to travel to New York on Saturday, and there’s no indication he’s been invited to attend any 9/11 memorial events.

The attacks’ anniversary also happens to coincide with one of the most holy celebrations of the Muslim calendar, Eid al-Fitr, a three-day holiday marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Confronted with reports of violent demonstrations that have erupted over his Quran-burning plans, Jones said he doesn’t feel responsible for any deaths or injuries. “We do not pull the trigger,” he told NBC. “Bibles are burned all the time. Christians do not go around killing people because they burn Bibles.”

He continued, “I’m just a man trying to do what God has told us to do, which is to take the blinders off as to how dangerous and violent Islam is. We have to get our heads out of the sand.”

Leave a Reply