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Gainesville pastor's ultimatum is met with silence

GAINESVILLE — The Gainesville pastor who planned to burn the Koran said he remains confident he will meet with an Islamic leader behind a proposed mosque near ground zero in New York City.

But an ultimatum he issued, through a spokesman, for Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf to call him by 3:15 p.m. to arrange the meeting was met with silence.

In a brief statement to reporters Friday afternoon, pastor Terry Jones said he had not heard from Rauf despite the ultimatum. But he said he remained confident the meeting would take place.

After a brief statement to reporters, Jones returned to the tiny church that has become a focus of worldwide condemnation.

The ultimatum was issued about 1:15 p.m. by evangelist K.A. Paul, who said he had been praying with Jones over the issue.

"The challenge to Imam Feisal is crystal clear," said Paul, who released two phone numbers to call. He also requested that reporters call to find out themselves if the planned Islamic center will be moved.

But Rauf said earlier Friday that he had no plans to move the mosque or to meet with Jones. "I am prepared to consider meeting with anyone who is seriously committed to pursuing peace," he said in a prepared statement. "We have no such meeting planned at this time. Our plans for the community center have not changed. With the solemn day of Sept. 11 upon us, I encourage everyone to take time for prayer and reflection."

The ultimatum was the latest in a series of confusing declarations that have come from the pastor in the past 24 hours. Jones originally planned to burn copies of the Koran on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of Sept. 11, setting off a storm of controversy. President Obama and other world leaders condemned the plan, and on Thursday evening, Jones said he had spoken with a Florida imam who said the Islamic center near ground zero would be moved.

The imam later said that wasn't the agreement and Jones began speaking of returning to the original plan.

In Afghanistan, at least 11 people were injured Friday in protests.

Police in the northern province of Badakhshan said several hundred demonstrators ran toward a NATO compound where four attackers and five police were injured in clashes. Protesters also burned an American flag at a mosque after Friday prayers. In western Farah province, police said two people were injured in another protest.

Speaking to NBC's Today show Friday morning, Jones said if he met with the imam in New York, he wouldn't burn the Koran. It wasn't clear if he meant the burning would be halted indefinitely or just for Saturday.

Gainesville pastor's ultimatum is met with silence 09/10/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 10, 2010 9:38pm]

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