The pastor of a small Florida church said on Tuesday he will go ahead with his plans to hold a Koran burning this week, despite warnings by the US commander of the Afghan war of violent reactions in the Islamic world.
Terry Jones, who heads the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville Florida, said he had given "serious" consideration to the concerns expressed by General David Petraeus over plans to torch a Koran to mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, but said he would proceed anyway.
"We are taking the general's words very serious. We are continuing to pray about the action on September 11th," he said.
Nevertheless, he said "we have firmly made up our mind" to go ahead with burning the Muslim holy book. "I mean, how long, when does America stand for truth?" he said.
"Instead of us being blamed for what other people will do or might do, why don't we send a warning to them? Why don't we send a warning to radical Islam and say, don't do it. If you attack us, if you attack us, we will attack you," he said.
In a statement, Petraeus expressed concern that the planned torching of the Koran would be a propaganda coup for Islamic extremists.
Jones said however that the Koran torching on Saturday was aimed "to remember those who were brutally murdered on September 11th," and to send a warning "to the radical element of Islam."
"We wanted to send a very clear message to them that we are not interested in their Sharia law. And we do not tolerate their threats, their fear, their radicalness. We live in the United States of America," he said.