Earlier today, Imam Muhammad al-Masri, the head of a central Florida mosque, brokered an agreement with hate pastor Terry Jones whereby Jones would back off his pledge to burn copies of the Quran on the anniversary of 9/11. Jones asserted that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf had “agreed to move” his Islamic center project near Ground Zero.
In a telephone conversation with ThinkProgress tonight, Daisy Khan — the wife of Imam Rauf — said there was no such deal made. She said Imam Masri had called her earlier today to ask whether Imam Rauf would be open to negotiating a relocation with Jones, and she said no.
Jones asserted earlier today that he and Masri are “flying up” to New York on Saturday to meet with Rauf. Khan told ThinkProgress that, while she and her husband are prepared to meet with Jones and Masri, she had not agreed to a meeting this Saturday. She said she told Masri that such a meeting should take place sometime in the future “when cooler heads have prevailed.” She explained that she would prefer not to meet with Jones on Saturday:
We do not want to take away from the solemn day of 9/11. Our Center is not about 9/11, the Quran is not about 9/11, we wish to commorate 9/11 with prayers for the families of the victims.
Khan also told us, “We reject any comparison to what we are prepared to build in NY and what Pastor was ready to destroy in Florida.” So what were the motivating factors for Masri and Jones to announce tonight’s deal?
For Masri, he likely felt pressure to make things happen quickly. Tomorrow, Muslims in America will be congregating in mosques to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr, a religious holiday to mark the end of a month of fasting. Masri likely wanted an announcement this evening so that the Eid celebration is not used to engender more animosity and division.
For Jones, as I told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann tonight, he probably felt like he needed a scapegoat in backing down. Jones had not previously linked the Quran burning effort to the Islamic Center project. Jones was trapped in a box because he received the call from Secretary Robert Gates that he had been requesting, asking that the pastor not proceed with his plans. In backing down, Jones — who had taken the world hostage with his hate-filled campaign — tried to shift the controversy back unto Rauf. Watch it: