GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The man behind a church's decision to hold "International Burn a Koran Day" said he has no plans to back down.
Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center spoke to the media this afternoon and announced his reasons for going ahead with the plans in spite of pressure to change his mind.
"As you can imagine, we have received very, very much pressure in the direction of canceling the event," Jones began. "As of this time, we have no intention of canceling."
Noting the media coverage he and his church have received not only locally and nationally, but in the Middle East, where hundreds of Afghan protestors burned his image days ago, he said, "I believe what has sometimes escaped the news media, we have also received quite a bit of support."
Jones said he heard from a retired Green Beret who told him "people in the field...are 100 percent behind us."
He said the soldier told him of instances when "radical Muslims, the element we are aiming at," burned churches and a hospital filled with Christians, yet because of international pressure and policies, the military was unable to respond.
"Our burning of the Koran is to call to attention that something is wrong...there is something very wrong with our policies," he said.
The Pope, the top general in Afghanistan and the president's press secretary have all spoken out against the planned event.
"We understand the general's (David Petraeus) concerns and we are still considering it," he said in the only statement he offered suggesting the event may still be canceled.
After considering everything, though, he concluded by saying, "We are not convinced that backing down is the right thing, so on September 11, we shall continue with our planned event."
A nearby church is Gainesville has a different event planned for Friday. Trinity United Methodist Church is planning a Gathering for Peace, Understanding and Hope.
That event will be Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. The Koran burning is planned for Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m.
Both events are open to the public, and both churches are on Northwest 53rd Street in Gainesville.
First Coast News