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Pastor to burn Koran despite backlash fears -

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An American Pastor says he will not back down from plans to burn copies of the Koran on the
anniversary of 9/11, despite despite fears it may fuel an angry backlash.


TONY JONES, PRESENTER: The US president Barack Obama has denounced a plan by an American Christian
minister to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of September 11 calling it destructive and
saying it will be a recruitment bonanza for Al Qaeda.

President Obama's criticism joins a chorus of condemnation from around the world. But the
Florida-based Pastor says he won't back down.

And in Afghanistan, American military leaders fear the book burning could create a violent

John Stewart reports.

JOHN STEWART, REPORTER: The little Florida church may only have 50 members but Pastor, Terry Jones,
now has an international audience.

PASTOR TERRY JONES, DOVE WORLD OUTREACH CENTER: This book, Muhammad, Sharia Law, this book is not a
book of peace. This book is responsible for 9/11.

JOHN STEWART: Pastor Jones' plan to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11 has placed
him at the centre of a global storm.

He's been under pressure to cancel the book burning, but today Pastor Jones said it was full steam

TERRY JONES: So as of right now we are not convinced that backing down is the right thing. So on
September the 11th, we shall continue with our planned event.

JOHN STEWART: Pastor Jones says his church is standing up to terrorism and wants to draw attention
to the evil nature of the Koran.

But tonight the US president condemned the plan to burn the Koran and warned that it could help

BARACK OBAMA, US PRESIDENT: This is a recruitment bonanza for Al Qaeda. You know you could have
serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan.

This could increase the recruitment of individuals who would be willing to blow themselves up in
American cities or European cities.

HILLARY CLINTON, US SECRETARY OF STATE: We are a country of what, 310 million plus right now, and I
mean it's regrettable that a Pastor in Gainesville Florida, with a church of no more than 50 people
can make this outrageous and distressful, disgraceful plan and get, you know, the world's

But that's the world we live in right now.

JOHN STEWART: In Rome, the Vatican released a statement about 9/11 and the Florida church, saying:

VATICAN STATEMENT (read): These deplorable acts of violence, in fact cannot be counteracted by an
outrageous and grave gesture against a book considered sacred by a religious community.

JOHN STEWART: The former US vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, said on her Facebook site,
the plan to burn the Koran was "insensitive and an unnecessary provocation".

Even Hollywood stars are speaking out against the Florida church.

ANGELNIA JOLIE, UNITED NATIONS GOODWILL AMBASSADOR: I have hardly the words to, that somebody would
do that to somebody's religious book.

JOHN STEWART: Much of the debate about Pastor Jones has centred on freedom of speech.

Today the Pastor complained that his internet service provider had cancelled his website.

TERRY JONES: That cancels our 'Islam is of the devil' account and naturally of course you can
imagine that we feel that is an indirect of course violation of our freedom of expression, freedom
of speech.

JOHN STEWART: Earlier this week, the top US commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus,
warned that troops lives could be placed in danger if the church went ahead with its bonfire.

In Afghanistan and Indonesia news of the plan to burn the Koran has lead to protests and threats to
retaliate against Americans.

MOHAMMAD MUKHTAR, MUSLIM CLERIC (Translation): If this happens, I think the first and most
important reaction afterwards will be that wherever Americans are seen they will be killed.

No matter where they will be in the world they will be killed.

JOHN STEWART: The threat to burn the Koran comes after a heated debate over a proposal to build a
Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre, near the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York.

Today a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that two-thirds of Americans polled were against the
Islamic centre being built there.

Sentiments shared by Pastor Jones who plans to create his own memorial in two days time.

John Stewart Lateline.