Florida pastor not backing down on Koran-burning
An imam from a local Florida Muslim group was present during Jones' statement and later entered the church to urge him to call off the event, quoting Bible verses and encouraging him to follow Jesus' teaching of "love your enemy".
"I strongly believe at the end of the day he will make the right step and call off the event" Muhammad Musri, head of the Islamic Society for Central Florida, told reporters.
In Washington, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said it would announce on Thursday an initiative, called "Learn, Don't Burn", to distribute 200,000 Koran texts to replace the 200 copies that the Florida church plans to burn.
Official criticism of the event intensified.
Defence Secretary Robert Gates "strongly endorsed" the view of his military commanders that any Koran-burning plan could endanger U.S. lives.
"We hope that the world will appreciate that this is the action of a very small fringe group and does not represent the views of the United States or Americans as a whole," said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.
Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay, whose country has nearly 3,000 troops in Afghanistan, also condemned the event.
On Tuesday, several high-ranking Obama administration officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had spoken out against it, and leading Christian and Jewish leaders also voiced outrage. Continued...