White House Laments Quran Burning Plan

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today echoed Gen. David Petraeus' concerns about plans by a Florida minister to host an "International Burn a Koran Day" to protest the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"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," Petraeus said.

Gibbs pointed to that comment when asked for White House reaction to the plan from Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center to burn copies of the sacred Islamic text.

"As [Petraeus] said, it puts our troops in harm's way," Gibbs told reporters Tuesday. "And obviously [anything] that puts our troops in harm's way would be a concern to this administration."

Gibbs added, however, that the White House has not reached out to the church's pastor, and he said he had not heard of any plans to do so.

Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., and author of the book "Islam Is of the Devil," has declared his church will proceed with plans to burn copies of the Quran on September 11, despite being denied a burning permit by the city council.
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The plan to burn Qurans has already generated protests in Afghanistan, where hundreds chanted "Long live Islam" and "Death to America" at a rally over the weekend. Thousands rallied in Jakarta, Indonesia and other cities two days earlier over the planned Quran burning. 

The leader of the tiny evangelical church, Terry Jones, said he plans to move forward despite Petraeus' concerns, though he said he is still praying over the decision.

"We think it's time to turn the tables, and instead of possibly blaming us for what could happen, we put the blame where it belongs - on the people who would do it," Jones told the Associated Press. "And maybe instead of addressing us, we should address radical Islam and send a very clear warning that they are not to retaliate in any form."

Jones, who is also planning to move forward despite being denied a permit for the event, made headlines last year for distributing t-shirts reading "Islam is of the Devil."

The pastor, who reportedly carries a gun after receiving death threats over his planned protest, says supporters have been mailing him copies of the Quran for burning on the evening of September 11th.

Speaking of the Afghanistan protests over Jones' plan, Petreaus said, "I am very concerned by the potential repercussions of the possible burning."

"Even the rumor that it might take place has sparked demonstrations such as the one that took place in Kabul yesterday," he told the AP. "Were the actual burning to take place, the safety of our soldiers and civilians would be put in jeopardy and accomplishment of the mission would be made more difficult."

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Brian Montopoli is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of his posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.

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