A Florida minister who had been considering burning copies of the Qur'an to mark the anniversary of 9/11 will not go ahead with the plan on Saturday, his son said.

"There will be no Qur'an burning tomorrow," Terry Jones's 29-year old son, Luke Jones, told reporters outside his father's Gainesville church Friday. But Luke Jones said he did not know if it might happen in the future.

Terry Jones said on NBC's Today show Friday that he would back off his plan to burn the Muslim holy book in exchange for a meeting with the organizers of a controversial proposed Islamic cultural centre in New York City on Saturday.


Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center speaks to the media on Friday in Gainesville, Fla. ((Phil Sandlin/Associated Press))

Imam Muhammad Musri, the president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida and the man who has been acting as an intermediary between Jones and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is behind the proposed NYC Islamic cultural centre, told CBC News that the meeting may not happen Saturday.

"My understanding is, due to time constraints, the meeting may not happen tomorrow," Musri said. "But we are in talks with New York to schedule a meeting as soon as possible."

On a confusing Thursday, Jones initially said he had decided to call off the burning because of a deal negotiated with Musri that organizers of the effort to build an Islamic centre near Ground Zero had agreed to move its location.

Musri replied that he could only set up a meeting with Rauf.

Later that night, Jones claimed Musri "clearly, clearly lied to us" about the centre being moved.

Qur'an burning un-American: Obama

Earlier Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama said that burning copies of the Qur'an is "contrary to what [America] was founded on" and "the best imaginable recruiting tool for al-Qaeda."


U.S. President Barack Obama gestures during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, on Friday. ((Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press))

Speaking at a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Obama referred to but did not name Terry Jones.

"The idea that we would burn the sacred texts of someone else's religion is contrary to what this country stands for," Obama said. "It's contrary to what this nation was founded on, and my hope is that this individual prays on it and refrains from doing it."

Obama had already condemned Jones's plan, joining other political leaders, top military officials and foreign dignitaries who have said burning the Qur'an would provoke militants in Afghanistan and put the lives of international soldiers in jeopardy.


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On Friday, he said that as commander-in-chief it is his responsibility to "send a very clear message that this kind of behaviour" is a threat to American troops.

"We are seeing today riots in Kabul, riots in Afghanistan, that threaten our young men and women in uniform," Obama said, thumping his podium to emphasize the point.

"This is a way of endangering our troops, our sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, sacrificing for us to keep us safe. You don't play games with that."