UPDATE: U.S. pastor’s Koran-burning plans ‘on hold’

The Vatican has condemned the act and Hilary Clinton has described it as ‘disrespectful and disgraceful’…

A Christian minister whose plans to burn copies of the Koran led to an international outcry says those plans are now on hold.

The initiative, to mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, was roundly condemned by President Barack Obama, who called it a ‘recruitment bonanza’ for terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda.

At a news conference, the Rev Terry Jones said he was canceling the plans because the leader of a controversial project to build an Islamic center near the site of the September 11 attacks in New York City had agreed to move the project to another location.

‘I will be flying up [to New York] on Saturday to meet with the imam on the Ground Zero mosque. He has agreed to move the location. That, of course, cannot happen overnight, but he has agreed to move that,’ Jones said.

‘We felt that that would be a sign that God would want us to do it. The American people do not want the mosque there and, of course, Muslims do not want us to burn the Koran.’

Prior to this Jones had been advised by the senior U.S. leader in Afghanistan, General David Petaeus, that the stunt would put American soldiers lives at greater risk and provide propaganda for the Taliban.

Rev Jones, 58, who claims to have received more than 100 death threats and began carrying a pistol for his own protection, said in July he would stage an ‘international Burn-a-Koran Day’ at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida.

Supporters have been posting copies of the Koran for him to put on a bonfire on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks and he is now in possession of 200 copies of the religious text.

Hillary Clinton joined in mounting criticism of Mr Jones’ plans. The U.S. Secretary of State told a religious meeting in Washington: ‘I am heartened by the clear, unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful, disgraceful act that has come from American religious leaders of all faiths.’

The Vatican denounced the event as ‘an outrageous and grave gesture against a book considered sacred by a religious community.’

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