The tiny Gainesville, Florida, Dove World Outreach Center ignited an international controversy when they announced plans to burn Korans on the ninth anniversary of September 11. The story stirred the same strong feelings surrounding a planned Muslim community center near Ground Zero. Both stories tested America's first amendment rights of both freedom of speech and religion and illustrated America's complicated relationship with the Islamic faith.
Now, Dove World's pastor Terry Jones says he has called off Saturday's planned book burning and wants to fly to Ground Zero to meet with the Imam behind the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque." Jones claims Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf has agreed to move the center. Update: Imam Rauf refutes that he has reached any agreement to move the center.
"He has agreed to move the location. We felt that that would be a sign that God would want us to do that," Jones announced today. "The Imam has agreed to move the mosque. We have agreed to cancel the event."
According to the AP , Imam Rauf has not agreed to such a deal. Imam Musri also claims that he was not aware of any such deal.
"I told the pastor that I personally believe the mosque should not be there, and I will do everything in my power to make sure it is moved," Musri said. "But there is not any offer from there (New York) that it will be moved. All we have agreed to is a meeting, and I think we would all like to see a peaceful resolution."
Dove World's planned protest garnered international reaction. Citizens in the Muslim world held protests against the plans, while White House and Military leaders openly asked Jones and his small church to reconsider the plans. Voices as disparate as Sarah Palin and Angelina Jolie even chimed in against the demonstration.
In another reverals, Jones is asking others not to burn the book, "We would right now ask no one to burn Qurans. We are absolutely strong on that. It is not the time to do it."