ABC News' Kirit Radia reports:
Today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined a chorus of senior U.S. officials in calling on a tiny church in Florida to cancel its plans to burn copies of the Koran on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
Calling the plans to burn the Islamic holy book “outrageous,” Clinton said “we are hoping that the pastor decides not to do this.”
In response to a question following a speech on the reach of American power in the 21st century at the Council on Foreign Relations, Clinton stressed the church’s actions do not represent America.
“We're a country of what, 310 million plus right now? And, I mean, it's regrettable that a pastor in Gainesville, Florida with a church of no more than 50 people can make this outrageous and distressful, disgraceful plan and get, you know, the world's attention,” she said.
“It doesn't in any way represent America or Americans or American government or American religious or political leadership. And we are, as you've seen in the last few days, you know, speaking out,” Clinton added.
At an Iftar dinner at the State Department last night, Clinton said she was “heartened” by the swift condemnation of the plans from a range of political leaders. Earlier, her spokesman PJ Crowley called the plans “un-American.” Attorney General Eric Holder said it was “idiotic.”
Yesterday General David Petraeus, the top commander of U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan, said if the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville goes ahead with its plans it would put U.S. troops at risk. Already, he noted, there have been protests in Kabul in which Pastor Terry Jones has been burned in effigy.
Still, Pastor Jones has said he is undeterred.
In an interview with ABC News Nightline anchor Terry Moran yesterday, Jones acknowledged Petraeus’ concerns and said he and his congregation would pray about it, but saw no reason why they would not go ahead.
"Of course it's insulting, of course it's not a nice thing to do," Jones, a former hotel manager, said. "But this is a very dangerous religion. If we don't do it, when do we stop backing down?"