(FinalCall.com) – Pastor Rev. Terry Jones, of the Florida-based White Dove World Outreach Center, canceled his plans to burn copies of the Holy Qu’ran, the Islamic sacred text, while the Al-Furqaan Foundation plans to continue national distribution of copies to promote understanding and insight.
“We are disturbed that this pastor has agitated, provoked and disparaged Muslims. We want people to understand the truth about Islam. We’ve given away more than 450,000 Holy Qu’rans over the past four years,” said Al-Furqaan director Abdul Jalil Muhammad, whose group had planned to giveaway copies of the Qur’an in response to the pastor’s previously announced plans to burn the holy book on Sept. 11.
“We go door to door and leave them on door steps. We’ve given them to hotels and colleges. We will distribute them nationwide,” he said.
The organization has received a shipment of 60,000 Qu’rans that are ready for distribution in response to what they considered would have been “a colossal un-Christian and un-American act of bigotry.”
“We’ve received a great response from Christians, Muslims and others. Many Christians are voicing their disapproval for what this pastor planned and approval for what we will continue to do,” Mr. Muhammad told The Final Call.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also planned to distribute Holy Qu’rans to replace the burned copies. “We would like to inform the public about this book,” said Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR. “We would like to turn this challenge into an opportunity of learning. … If they learn, they will understand. If they understand, they will respect. When they respect, they will not offend others.”
Opposition to the Qu’ran burning was worldwide and talk of destroying the sacred text had an international impact though plans for the offensive act were cancelled. The Vatican expressed concern Sept. 8, calling it an “outrageous and grave gesture.”
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi says burning the holy book of Islam is not the proper way for people to show their outrage about the 2001 terrorist attacks.
“This act would only call for new hate and violence. It goes directly in the opposite direction to the building of peace to which we all, as faithful in God and as people of peace, are called,” Mr. Lombardi said.
The voices of opposition included the president of the United Nations General Assembly, Ali Abdussalam Treki, who “condemns such calls, which can only provoke hatred and discrimination between religions and faiths and reinforces the clash between the civilizations and religions of the world,” said his spokesperson.
The top United Nations envoy to Afghanistan also voiced his outrage over the planned Holy Qu’ran burning, warning that it could endanger the lives of those working to further peace and development in the Asian nation.
“If such an abhorrent act were to be implemented, it would only contribute to fuelling the arguments of those who are indeed against peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan,” Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General’s special representative, said in a statement.
“It could also put in jeopardy the efforts of so many Afghans and foreigners who are trying to assist Afghanistan to find its own way to peace and stability within the framework of its own culture, traditions and, indeed, religion,” he added.
The president and top administration officials had appealed to Rev. Jones, whose small church drew worldwide attention, as news of his plans grew. The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, warned Qur’an burnings “could cause significant problems” for American troops overseas and lead to violent attacks.
The Gainesville, Fla.-based Rev. Jones initially rejected the worldwide pleas, saying his message was for radical Islamists.
“The general needs to point his finger to radical Islam and tell them to shut up, tell them to stop, tell them that we will not bow our knees to them,” Rev. Jones said on CNN’s AC360 °.
“If he’s listening, I just hope he understands that what he’s proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans, that this country has been built on the notions of religious freedom and religious tolerance,” said President Obama in words aimed at Pastor Jones.
“And as a very practical matter, as commander in chief of the armed forces of the United States, I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan. We’re already seeing protests against Americans just by the mere threat … this is a destructive act that he’s engaging in.”
In the end, following meetings with a Muslim imam, Pastor Jones announced the Qur’an burnings had been postponed and said he would fly to New York to meet with the Muslim imam leading the plans for the Islamic center near Ground Zero. At one point, Pastor Jones said if the Islamic center was moved to another location, he would see it as a sign from God to cancel burning the Islamic holy book. The imam heading the New York center and the imam in Florida who met with Pastor Jones said no deals had been made.
Many around the country were concerned that the burnings would increase hate crimes against Muslims. Historically cross burnings by the Ku Klux Klan were followed by hate crimes against Blacks, Nazis started with burning books and “ended up burning people,” said those opposed to plans to destroy the holy book.
Though Pastor Jones called off plans to desecrate the Qur’an, there were scattered incidents across the country, where in Washington, D.C., pages of the text were ripped out at a protest and in Knoxville, Tenn., police were investigating a burnt Qur’an left outside a mosque. But there was other news: Some churches read scripture from the holy book during services and a man from Amarillo, Tex., grabbed a Qur’an from an evangelist who was threatening to burn the book. The rescued Qur’an was given to the leader of an Islamic center in the city, according to media reports.
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