10 Sep 2010

Koran-burning plan on hold, says pastor

7:16 pm on 10 September 2010

The American pastor who threatened to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the September the 11th attacks says the plan is not cancelled but, in his words, on hold.

A spokesperson for pastor Terry Jones says he feels he has been lied to by an imam who got him to drop the plan.

Mr Jones initially told reporters that imam Muhammad Musri had said an Islamic centre planned near New York's Ground Zero would be moved. But Mr Musri later said no such deal had been reached.

Mr Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, which has fewer than 50 members, had named Saturday "International Burn a Koran Day".

US President Barack Obama had issued an urgent appeal to the pastor, saying that if the burning went ahead it would be a "recruitment bonanza" for al Qaeda and could endanger US military personnel serving in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Defence Secretary Robert Gates had also phoned Mr Jones urging him to reconsider his plans.

Interpol issued a global alert, warning that the burning could provoke violent attacks on innocent people.

Indonesia, Pakistan and India, which all have big Muslim populations, separately urged Mr Obama to act.