So they finally decided to turn the other cheek?
Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who incited world-wide debate over his plans to burn copies of the Quran, said Saturday that he had already accomplished his goal of exposing a radical element of Islam and that he wouldn’t follow through with his Quran-burning plans under any circumstances.
Appearing on NBC’s “Today Show,” Mr. Jones said he had come to New York in the hopes of meeting with Imam Feisal Rauf, a partner in the project to build an Islamic center two blocks north of Ground Zero. Mr. Jones has been lobbying for that project to be moved away from the site.
As Saturday progressed, however, it became apparent a meeting was unlikely to take place. People familiar with the matter said the imam will not meet with Mr. Jones and that this has become clear to the people in Mr. Jones’s camp.
Asked on the “Today Show” whether he would proceed with his plans to burn copies of the holy book, Mr. Jones paused for several seconds before saying he had decided to cancel the event.
Mr. Jones then said he could “absolutely guarantee” that he wouldn’t carry out his original plans, even if the Islamic center gets built on its proposed site. “We hoped that would open up a door to be able to talk to the imam about the Ground Zero mosque,” he said.
Mr. Jones originally announced plans in July to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11. On Thursday, he abandoned them after a direct appeal from U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Mr. Jones said he dropped his plans after reaching an agreement to move the Islamic center away from its planned location near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks. However, representatives of the center denied there was any such agreement.
On Friday afternoon, speaking at his Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., Mr. Jones imposed a two-hour deadline on the imam to notify him whether he planned to relocate the Islamic center. The deadline passed without any contact from the imam, and it remained unclear what Mr. Jones’s ultimate plans were as he traveled to New York Friday night.
Mr. Jones arrived at New York’s LaGuardia airport late Friday night as a throng of news trucks and cameras awaited him.
In his television interview on Saturday, Mr. Jones insisted that his plans weren’t a ploy for publicity for his church but rather a mission from God.
“Of course, Abraham was also wiser than us,” he said. “He told no one.”