(Photo: AP Photo / Phil Sandlin)
Saturday’s scheduled “Burn a Quran Day” is off – for certain this time.
But there could still be a burning of Islam’s sacred text in the future as the preacher behind the controversial event has yet received the “sign from God” that would finally put an end to it – the moving of the proposed Islamic center near New York City’s Ground Zero.
"I have confirmed 100 percent that he (Pastor Terry Jones) will not burn the Quran tomorrow," India-born preacher K.A. Paul told reporters after joining Jones for a press conference.
Jones' son, Luke Jones, later confirmed Paul’s claim, saying, "There will be no Quran-burning tomorrow."
But he added, "I can't speak for the future."
As for the meeting that the elder Jones planned to have with the Muslim leader behind the Islamic center in New York, a statement by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf revealed that he had no plans at this time to meet with Jones, though he said he is open to seeing anyone "seriously committed to pursuing peace."
Yesterday, Jones told members of the press that his church – Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla. – was cancelling “International Burn A Quran Day” after he claimed that Rauf "has agreed to move the mosque.”
“The American people do not want the mosque there. And of course Moslems do not want us to burn the Quran,” Jones said Thursday, tying together the two hotly debated plans.
Not long after the announcement, however, Park51, the group behind the proposed Islamic center, refuted reports on the alleged agreement, noting that Rauf “hasn’t” agreed to moving the $100 million, 13-story facility.
“It is untrue that Park51 is being moved,” reported the team behind the Muslim-led project in its official Twitter account.
“The project is moving ahead as planned. What is being reported in the media is false,” it added.
Rauf, in his own statement, said he was “glad” that Jones decided not to burn any copies of the Quran, but also reported that he has not spoken to Jones or to Muhammad Musri, the imam who reportedly mediated communication between Rauf's office and the pastor.
“I am surprised by their announcement,” Rauf stated. “We are not going to toy with our religion or any other. Nor are we going to barter. We are here to extend our hands to build peace and harmony."
After hearing Rauf’s response, Jones told NBC News late Thursday that "we are a little back to square one."
Wayne Sapp, associate pastor of Jones’ church, elaborated on Jones’ statement, reporting that they “have not canceled the burning on Saturday.”
“We have suspended it until we get confirmation on the info we were given today,” he stated.
After waiting until 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Paul - a controversial preacher in his own right - said Jones “agreed in principle” not to burn Qurans.
It was not immediately known what Jones’ next step would be.