Developing: Pastor Suspends Quran Burn; Park 51 Imam, Developer Deny Deal

BY Dave Gustafson  September 9, 2010 at 5:10 PM EDT

Updated 9:25 p.m. ET | Late Thursday, Pastor Terry Jones told news agencies he was rethinking his decision to cancel the burning of Qurans to mark the 9/11 anniversary because he believes he was lied to about the relocating of an Islamic center in New York City. The story continues to develop. We’ll have more about this here on the Rundown Friday.

Updated 7:25 p.m. ET | Two high-profile religious issues briefly appeared to nullify each other Thursday as a Florida pastor announced he would cancel a planned Quran burning on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks — as long as a planned mosque and Islamic center was moved away from Ground Zero in New York or scrapped.

However, the imam and developer associated with the New York project denied reports that a deal was reached to move.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf issued a statement through his publicist saying earlier reports were false, and there had been no negotiations of the sort.

Jones, speaking to reporters again later in the afternoon, was adamant that he was promised that the Islamic center would be moved, and said he would be “very, very disappointed” if that didn’t happen.

Sharif El Gamal, the New York developer behind the Park 51 project in lower Manhattan, told the NewsHour late Thursday:

“We are not moving.”

Asked about a meeting with Imam Feisal and the Florida pastor, he said:

“I talk to the these people every day. It’s my building. I own it. I know nothing of a meeting.”

The Rev. Terry Jones, who leads a small congregation that espouses anti-Islam philosophy, announced at a news conference Thursday that he decided to cancel the extremely controversial burning of Islam’s holiest text — a pledge that drew strong rebuke worldwide, most notably from President Obama.

Watch remarks from Jones and Musri at a Thursday news conference:

Jones spoke again to reporters later in the day:

According to The Associated Press, Jones said Imam Muhammad Musri of the Islamic Society of Central Florida told him that officials would guarantee that the mosque would be moved.

Jones said Thursday that instead of his plan to burn Qurans, he will fly to New York Saturday to speak to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf about moving the Park 51 project.

But Imam Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, told the AP that what he offered was a meeting among Jones, the New York imam and himself to talk about the Islamic center location.

Musri, who appeared with Jones at the news conference, later said no deal was reached to move the site of the mosque and Islamic center.

The New York Times has more here, and the AP here.

The NewsHour talked to Marc Lynch, the director of the Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, about the issue earlier this week. Find that conversation here.

We’ll have more on this on Thursday’s NewsHour. George Griffin contributed to this report.