US pastor Terry Jones cancelled his sell-out Koran-burning event late last night after he realized he was all but a dead man.
Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, which has fewer than 50 members, had planned his book-burning celebration for this Saturday, and called it "International Burn a Koran Day".
Tickets had been sold, and a large quantity of Korans stacked up behind the church, but at the eleventh hour - 11pm last night - Jones shocked supporters by suddenly cancelling the event.
He told reporters: "It was a bad idea. I've had numerous phone calls and emails from Moslems saying they think it would be in bad taste, and asking me to reconsider my plans. I just thought ... what the hell, they're only books! ... I won't be refunding ticket money, however."
Indeed, Mr Jones seemed to have reached a different opinion on the Koran by the time we talked to him. He added: "The Koran is actually a very interesting book. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but there is much in it that deserves closer inspection, and it should not be blindly labelled as 'evil' merely because offbeat nutters like myself tell you it is."
One Islamisist who contacted Mr Jones was Abdul al-Fariq from New York, who said: "I got in touch with Mr Jones and told him that I thought burning the Koran was not a very Christian thing to do. I called upon his Christian nature to see sense, and to allow Moslems to express their faith in whichever way they choose. Thankfully, Mr Jones is a decent and honourable man, and has agreed to my request."
Another Moslem, who wished to remain nameless, said: "Mr Jones is a dead man."