White House Warns Against Koran Burning While Bloomberg ‘Defends’ Protesters’ Rights

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Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Forever 21

The pastor of the Florida church that is planning to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11 has said that the congregation will not necessarily be changing its plans in spite of the stern warning from U.S. General Petraeus, who called the idea “precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses" and said it "could cause significant problems.” Terry Jones, the pastor of Dove World Outreach Center, seemed to indicate there is a chance the church will reconsider its decision after "praying ... and weighing the situation."

"We have firmly made up our mind, but at the same time, we are definitely praying about it," Jones said. "We are definitely weighing the situation. We are weighing the thing that we're about to do. What it possibly could cause. What is our actual message. What are we trying to get across."

The White House also came forward late Tuesday against the demonstration, with press secretary Robert Gibbs echoing Petraeus’s message that the destruction of the holy texts would “put our troops in harm's way.” Meanwhile, the protesters had one big-name supporter: Mayor Bloomberg. He entered the fray Tuesday when he defended the right of those in the congregation to demonstrate as they see fit.


"In a strange way, I'm here to defend his right to do that. I happen to think that it is distasteful," Bloomberg said. "The First Amendment protects everybody, and you can't say that we're going to apply the First Amendment to only those cases where we are in agreement... If you want to be able to say what you want to say when the time comes that you want to say it, you have to defend others, no matter how, how much you disagree with them."

The three-hour rally is scheduled for Saturday. Plans for "heightened security" have already been made.

Pastor weighing plans to burn Qurans amid U.S. warnings [CNN]
Bloomberg defends Terry Jones, pastor planning Koran-burning rally despite warnings from White House [NYDN]