Despite death threats and attempted bribes, Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center has a message for Gainesville: The burn is on - for now.
Jones made the announcement at an afternoon press conference Thursday as a crowd of sweaty reporters jostled for camera angles outside the church.
A handful of the church's pastors plan to burn about 200 copies of the Islamic holy book, the Quran, on the property at 5805 NW 37th St. on Sept. 11.
"As of right now," he said, "we are not convinced that backing down is the right thing."
Imam Muhammad Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, spoke with Jones for about 20 minutes. Afterward, he said Jones didn't agree to cancel the burn but said he would pray about it.
"The pastor was listening, attentive, extremely courteous and said he would consider it," Musri said. "I think the pastor, as a Christian, will follow in the footsteps of Christ and will do the right thing."
Luke Jones, Terry Jones' son and a pastor at Dove World Outreach Center, said the church has received hundreds of violent threats and even some offers of money in exchange for canceling the event.
But for now, he said, aside from the use of force, the only way the burn will be canceled is if plans for the Islamic cultural center at ground zero are halted.
Nancy Harvell, a 50-year-old Gainesville resident, brought her two young children to the property today to give them a chance to experience history in the making.
"This is history in the making," she said. "It's incredible to me that something like this can happen."
Editor's note on 9/9/10: The article incorrectly spelled Imam Muhammad Musri.