The American preacher planning to burn copies of the Koran on Saturday is refusing to call off his stunt. Terry Jones has a collection of the Muslim holy book, which he intends to set alight at his Florida church on the ninth anniversary of the World Trade Centre attacks.
Political, religious and military leaders have all denounced Jones, but some people support his constitutional rights.
In Washington one woman said: “We are supposed to be a melting pot, you know. Let people believe what they believe, let people live.”
At the Jefferson Memorial, a man said: “I don’t necessarily agree with it, but they have the right to do it and that’s what the country guaranties. It’s the right for you to practise religion and other things as long as they don’t harm other people.”
Asked if that included burning somebody else’s holy book, he went on: “Well, they burn our American flag anywhere in the world and I don’t like that very much, but they do that on a regular basis.”
The issue has inflamed passions across the Muslim world. In Afghanistan, America’s senior commander warned the bonfire could endanger soldiers’ lives, but Pastor Jones said America must confront radical Islam. The FBI predicted a backlash and said the preacher has already received death threats.