Park51 Leaders: No Intention to Move Mosque Away from Ground Zero

( [email protected] ) Sep 09, 2010 09:53 AM EDT

The group behind the proposed Islamic center near New York City’s Ground Zero is refuting reports claiming that the $100 million, 13-story facility will move as part of an agreement to stop the planned Quran burning in Florida.

“It is untrue that Park51 is being moved,” reported the team behind the Muslim-led project in its official Twitter account.

“The project is moving ahead as planned. What is being reported in the media is false,” it added.

The Cordoba Initiative, which originally spearheaded the effort for an Islamic center near Ground Zero, also backed the message by Park51 and directed its supporters to a report highlighting that imam behind the Islamic center “hasn’t” agreed to move the facility.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf “now says he was ‘surprised’ by the announcement,” states the article referred to by the Cordoba Initiative.

In a statement, Rauf said he was “glad” that Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., decided not to burn any copies of Islam’s sacred text.

But he said he has not spoken to Jones or the imam who reportedly mediated communication between his office and the pastor.

“I am surprised by their announcement,” Rauf stated. “We are not going to toy with our religion or any other. Nor are we going to barter. We are here to extend our hands to build peace and harmony."

Just hours earlier, Jones held a press conference and announced that “the imam (Rauf) has agreed to move the mosque” and so he and his church therefore agreed to cancel Saturday’s “International Burn A Quran Day.”

The imam who said he “made contact” with Rauf’s office, Muhammad Musri, was also present at the press conference and said he “got a commitment to fly up to New York and meet with him (Rauf) in the company of Pastor Jones to discuss and come to a decision on relocating the mosque in New York.”

“We are committed to dissolving the situation here and there,” added Musri, who serves as the president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida.

Notably, Musri also pointed out that he – “like many Americans, Muslim and non[-Muslim]” – feels the placement of a mosque near the Ground Zero location is “unnecessary” and “has become a clear provocation to many people to be violent against mosques across the nation.”

When asked what it would take to call off Saturday’s Quran burning, Jones and members of his church decided they would consider it “a sign from God” to cancel the burning if the group behind Park51 were to cancel or move its proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque to another location.

“The American people do not want the mosque there. And of course Moslems do not want us to burn the Quran,” Jones said Thursday.

And after receiving a “guarantee,” Jones told reporters, "If it's not moved, then I think Islam is a very poor example of religion."

He did not say, however, whether he would change his mind about burning Qurans. But the preacher did say the church was “absolutely strong” on standing against the burning of Qurans following the agreement he reportedly made.

“International Burn A Quran Day” had been scheduled for the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks that left nearly 3,000 dead and over 6,000 injured. According to Jones and Musri, the two were planning to fly out to New York on Saturday for the meeting with Rauf.