A Florida preacher is digging in his heels despite the growing outcry that he abandon plans to burn the Muslim holy book.
A Muslim leader came to the door of a small Florida church hoping to talk the pastor out of burning the Koran.
“I think the pastor as a Christian will follow in the footsteps of Christ and will do the right thing,” said Imam Muhammad Musri, President of the Islamic Society of Central Florida.
But Terry Jones has made it clear, despite pressure from religious leaders, the White House and General David Petraeus, he’s not backing down.
“We have no intention of canceling,” he said.
The leader of a 50-member congregation in Gainesville insists he received quite a bit of support for his plan to mark the 9/11 anniversary by burning copies of the Muslim holy book.
While legal experts agree Jones’ protest is protected by the 1st Amendment, the city fire department has denied him a required burn permit, and the company that manages the church's website pulled the plug on his account.
“We feel that is an indirect violation of our freedom of expression and speech because they are trying to shut us down,” said Jones.
Neighbors troubled by Jones' plans are mobilizing at events like this interfaith service.
“This is the best example of what our community is about,” said Salvador Pancorbo of Gainesville. “You have a church of 50 people and here in the first two rows you had a lot more than 50 people.”
As U.S. troops and embassies around the world brace for fallout from the Koran burning, residents here are planning more gatherings like this one and a protest of their own.
Without the burn permit, Jones may face a fine, but he says lawyers have told him he has the right to burn Korans with or without the city’s permission.