The government turned up the pressure Tuesday on the head of a small Florida church who plans to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11, warning him that doing so could endanger U.S. troops and Americans everywhere.
But the Rev. Terry Jones insisted he would go ahead with his plans, despite criticism from the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, the White House and the State Department, as well as a host of religious leaders.
Jones, who is known for posting signs proclaiming that Islam is the devil's religion, says the Constitution gives him the right to publicly set fire to the book that Muslims consider the word of God.
Gen. David Petraeus warned Tuesday in an e-mail to The Associated Press that "images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence." It was a rare example of a military commander taking a position on a domestic political matter.
Jones responded that he is also concerned but is "wondering, 'When do we stop?'" He refused to cancel the protest set for Saturday at his Dove World Outreach Center, a church that espouses an anti-Islam philosophy.