Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who caused an international furor when he threatened to burn Korans on today's anniversary of 9/11, has said that he has called off the demonstration.
"It's totally cancelled," said Jones on the "Today" show this morning in New York. "We hope that through that we can talk to the Iman about the Ground Zero Mosque."
Jones has come to New York this weekend with the hope of speaking with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, but so far no meeting has been scheduled.
"We have a couple of people working who are mediating the situation," he said.
"I am prepared to consider meeting with anyone who is seriously committed to pursuing peace," Rauf stated.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly spoke to CNN this morning about the police force's role in Jones visit to the city. Though they're aware he made plans to be in New York until Monday, the NYPD do not know any of Jones' specific plans. "We'd like to make certain he's safe," Kelly said.
The people of Gainesville, Fla., would like you to know that Terry Jones does not speak for them. The pastor has been condemned by his own daughter and roundly ostracized by a community that finds itself in the eye of a media storm.
"He's a really fringy character," said Pegeen Hanrahan, a two-term mayor who left office in May. "For every one person in Gainesville who thinks this is a good idea there are a thousand who just think it's ridiculous."
But because of that one idea -- an idea that has been called a "gimmick" and a "stunt" by President Obama -- Jones has been taken very seriously by a lot of people. People who otherwise wouldn't.
"He's a person who has a congregation that's exceedingly small, maybe 30 or 40 people -- 50 on a good day," says Jacki Levine, managing editor of the Gainesville Sun newspaper. "He is not at all reflective of community he finds himself in."
That community is a university town, home to the main campus of the University of Florida -- a "very tolerant community," according to Levine, that recently elected an openly gay mayor.
"Up until he started putting up billboards, nobody really thought much about him," she said.
The signs started popping up last year around the Dove World Church -- just a year after Jones arrived in Gainesville. Stark and ugly in appearance and tone alike, they were emblazoned with big red letters: ISLAM IS OF THE DEVIL. As mayor, Hanrahan would get calls complaining about them.
"It's offensive, certainly. And do you wish they'd stop? Do you wish they'd make a connection to another community and move away? Absolutely," she says. "But it was a pretty fundamental first amendment issue."
Things were less clear-cut last August, when two children from the church, a 10-year-old and a 15-year-old, showed up at school wearing T-shirts that read "Islam Is of the Devil." They were sent home.
During this year's mayoral race, Hanrahan said the church posted signs reading NO HOMO MAYOR, in protest against the candidacy of the openly gay Craig Lowe, who ultimately won the race. Those signs did have to come down because they crossed church-state boundaries.
As the founder of the Florida church, 58-year-old Terry Jones is a somewhat shadowy character -- a former hotel manager who worked as a missionary in Europe for 30 years. He led a small congregation in Cologne, Germany, and didn't show up in Florida until 2008, after his church in Germany asked him to leave.