Koran Burning Event Still On, Despite Opposition

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The Florida pastor planning to burn Korans to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is refusing to back down -- despite growing opposition from Christian leaders and even the Obama administration.

Thursday, President Barack Obama urged Pastor Terry Jones and members of the Dove World Outreach Center to cancel their plans to burn Korans on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of 9/11.

"If he's listening I just hope he understands that what he's proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans," Obama said during an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" Thursday.

"I just want him to understand that this stunt he's talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform," he said. "This is a recruitment bonanza for al Qaeda. You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan."

The imam of the proposed Ground Zero mosque is also standing his ground, saying America could see more Islamic violence if he doesn't stay firm.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations warned that Muslim extremists will retaliate if the Koran burning takes place. The U.S. State Department has ordered American embassies around the world to assess their security procedures in case Pastor Terry Jones goes forward with his plan.

"As of this time, we have no intentions of canceling this event," Jones said.

Evangelist Franklin Graham has also joined the growing chorus of Christian leaders urging Jones to cancel his plans to burn Korans outside of Dove World Outreach Center, located in Gainesville, Fla.

Rev. Rob Schenck, president and co-founder of the outreach organization Faith and Action made a plea to Jones to Jones and his followers on the Sept. 8 edition of the CBN News weekday newscast "Newswatch."

"This may be allowed under the First Amendment and the Constitution," Schenck said. "It may even be natural. We have emotions feelings, passions and sometimes they run quite severe."

"But we are held to higher authority and I would argue that is the second great commandment: 'You shall love your neighbor has yourself,'" he said. Click here to watch more of Rev. Schenck's plea.

Even a local Muslim imam has contacted Jones to reconsider his plan.

"I told him the world will admire your courage if you come out and say, 'Because of my devotion to Christ and the Bible I'm going to do the right thing,'" said Imam Muhammad Musri of the Islamic Society of Central Florida.

The burning of the Muslim holy book would be the latest demonstration targeting Muslims nationwide. There has been a growing controversy surrounding the planned mosque to be built just two blocks from New York City's Ground Zero.

"Had I known [the controversy] would happen, I would never have done this," Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, executive director of the Cordoba Initiative, told Soledad O'Brien on CNN's "Larry King Live" Wednesday night.

"You would never have picked that spot?" O'Brien asked.

"We would not have done something that would create more divisiveness," Rauf replied.

Rauf showed a hint of regret in his latest interview on CNN. However he quickly noted that moving it now could incite radical Muslims to attack America.

"The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack," Rauf said. "If we do move, it will strengthen the argument of the radicals to recruit, their ability to recruit, and their increasing violent aggression against our country."

In a new ABC News poll, 31 percent of Americans said mainstream Islam encourages violence against non-Muslims. Only 54 percent of Americans see Islam as a peaceful religion.

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CBN News
Efrem Graham

Efrem Graham

News Anchor & Reporter

Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at Facebook.com/EfremGrahamCBN.