Florida minister calls off plans to burn Quran

September 9, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Local law enforcement here in Chicago and around the world still on special alert Thursday night by the FBI and Interpol for possible anti-American attacks.

Investigators say there is still a threat from Islamic radicals even if Florida fundamentalist Christian pastor Terry Jones backs down from his Quran-burning in exchange for the relocation of a planned mosque near ground zero in New York.

Launched on the Internet months ago, the Quran-burning plan of Minister Terry Jones from Gainesville, Florida has created a furor across the Islamic world.

Jones, the pastor of a 50-member Pentecostal church, was to burn the Quran because he believes it is evil, against biblical truth and incited the September 11 attacks nine years ago this Saturday.

The backlash intensified here in Chicago and elsewhere Thursday.

On the Northwest Side the Islamic Circle of North America unveiled a plan known as 'Gainpeace' to give away Qurans so non-Musims could read it for themselves. The group also launched a campaign of public service announcements.

"Gainpeace is about understanding Islam and erasing misunderstandings," said Sabeel Ahmed, Gainpeace director.

Under intense pressure Thursday, the Rev. Terry Jones announced he would not burn Qurans because an Islamic leader planning a New York mosque near ground zero had agreed to move the building. The Muslim has since disputed that there was a deal.

Regardless, Interpol, the worldwide law enforcement agency, still posted a global alert for increased terror because of the controversy. And the FBI sent out a high priority message to local law enforcement in metro Chicago and across the county warning of the potential for violent reactions to the Quran burning and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

In Chicago, the response so far has been measured.

"We've asked the Muslim community to be patient and to pray for the pastor and his congregation in Florida. Real homeland security comes when we respect each other even though we might have differences with each other, we should learn to live with those differences with love," said Irfan Sheikh, Gainpeace.com.

Among the pressure points on Rev. Terry Jones: American flag-burning in Afghanistan; the burning of a Jones effigy in Pakistan; a pointed statement from President Barack Obama and even a personal call from U.S. defense secretary Robert Gates.

Now Minister Jones says he was lied to about the relocation of the New York mosque. And it's still unclear if there will be a meeting or Qurans set on fire come Saturday.

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