Pastor Terry Jones Cancels Qur’an Burning: No Deal to Move Muslim Community Center

From the New York Times:

The pastor planning a burning of the Koran on Saturday said Thursday he will cancel the event, adding he plans to meet with the imam planning to build an Islamic center near ground zero.

Terry Jones, the pastor from Gainesville, Fla., said at a press conference, "We have agreed to cancel the event."

"I have agreed to meet with him," he said in reference to the Imam planning to build the Islamic center, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

The pastor’s decision came after President Obama sharply criticized the pastor’s plan to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, calling it a “stunt” that threatens the lives of American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and violates American principles of religious tolerance.

ABC News further reports Jones said that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf will move the proposed community center currently planned for near Ground Zero:

Pastor Terry Jones today canceled his plan to burn Korans at his Florida church after claiming he has struck a deal to with a New York Muslim cleric to relocate the mosque that has been planned to be built near Ground Zero in New York.

Jones emerged from his church in Gainesville, Fla., to announce the deal which he said came after days of prayer and said he viewed the tentative arrangement as "a sign from God."

The fiery pastor said that Imam Abdel Rauf, the leader behind the Ground Zero mosque, will meet with him in New York on Saturday.

"He has agreed to move it," Jones said referring to the Ground Zero mosque.

"Americans don’t want the mosque there and of course Muslims don’t want us to burn Korans," said Jones.

"We have agreed to cancel our event on Saturday," he said.

Jones will fly to New York on Saturday, he said, to meet with Rauf.

The New York Times reports that Jones canceled the Qur’an burning after he was contacted by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and that no deal to move the Muslim community center exists:

Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who set the world on edge with plans to burn copies of the Koran on Sept. 11, said Thursday that he had canceled his demonstration.

But the global controversy he started — drawing pointed criticism from President Obama and an array of leaders, officials and celebrities in the United States and abroad — stirred new questions and concerns even as he announced its end (which he later in the day threatened to retract.)

Mr. Jones said he called off the burning in return for a promise to move a proposed mosque in New York City to a new location far from ground zero.

That supposed deal, announced here on the lawn of Mr. Jones’s church, does not appear to exist.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said in a statement that he had not spoken to Mr. Jones or Imam Muhammad Musri, the Orlando, Fla., imam who joined Mr. Jones for his announcement. Even Mr. Musri, after praising Mr. Jones for terminating his plans, contradicted the Pentecostal pastor, noting he had not brokered a deal but rather a meeting.

“The imam committed to meet with us but did not commit to moving the mosque yet,” he said.

The odd disconnect — with Mr. Jones insisting that he alone could take credit for solving Manhattan’s religious dispute, and Mr. Abdul Rauf ’s representatives denying that even a meeting had been agreed to — suggested that Mr. Jones was trying to save face and hold on to the spotlight, even as he abandoned an act that could have made him a widely reviled figure.