Firebrand Pastor Jones now says he won’t be burning Qurans on Saturday because he claims he extracted a deal to get the Cordoba House project moved to a different site.
“Americans don’t want the mosque there and of course Muslims don’t want us to burn Qurans,” Jones said.
The problem is, Jones appears to have cut his deal with someone who has no say in the location of the mosque: Florida Imam Muhammad al-Masri.
In an interview on CNN on Wednesday, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf reiterated his commitment to open the Islamic center in Lower Manhattan.
“I am glad that Pastor Jones has decided not to burn any Qurans,” Rauf told ABC News on Thursday. “However, I have not spoken with Pastor Jones or Imam Musri. I am surprised by their announcement.”
The likely political effect of Jones’ Quran burning stunt is that it will strengthen mainstream opposition to Cordoba House. In response to Jones’ antics, many opponents of the Islamic center have taken the opportunity to paint themselves as moderates in tune with popular opinion.
As the Washington Post reports:
Most Americans say the planned Muslim community center and place of worship should not be built in Lower Manhattan, with the sensitive locale being their overwhelming objection, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Two-thirds of those polled object to the prospective Cordoba House complex near the site of the former twin towers, including a slim majority who express strongly negative views. Eighty-two percent of those who oppose the construction say it’s because of the location, although 14 percent (9 percent of all Americans) say they would oppose such building anywhere in the country.
The new results come alongside increasingly critical public views of Islam: 49 percent of all Americans say they have generally unfavorable opinions of Islam, compared with 37 percent who say they have favorable ones. That’s the most negative split on the question in Post-ABC polls dating to October 2001.
Furthermore, the poll makes it clear that while America remains at war, economic recovery is nowhere near in sight, and tackling climate change has yet to be treated as a national and global imperative, the focus of the upcoming midterm elections is likely to be a minor construction project in New York.
Regardless of their rationale, most voters who firmly oppose the center’s construction in Lower Manhattan say they feel strongly enough about the issue that it would influence their congressional vote in November. These voters side by a wide margin with Republican over Democratic candidates.
Overall, 83 percent of Republicans oppose the Muslim center, as do 65 percent of independents and 53 percent of Democrats. Among Republicans, generally negative views have spiked higher: 67 percent of those who identify as Republican say they have unfavorable views of Islam, up from 42 percent in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Big majorities of Protestants and Catholics are against it, with opposition peaking among white evangelical Protestants. By contrast, most people with no professed religion support the construction.
As the issue reveals, rarely is there a discernible difference between piety and pettiness — at least in America.