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“No one burns the Quran,” read the headline in Tuesday’s L’Osservatore Romano.

Mr. Jones, who has about 50 followers, gained some local notoriety last year when he posted signs in front of his small church proclaiming “Islam is of the Devil.” But his Koran-burning scheme, after it caught fire on the Internet, brought rebukes from Muslim nations and an avalanche of media interview requests just as an emotional debate was taking shape over the proposed Islamic center near ground zero in New York.

The Koran, according to Mr. Jones, is “evil” because it espouses something other than the Christian biblical truth and incites radical, violent behavior among Muslims.

“It’s hard for people to believe, but we actually feel this is a message that we have been called to bring forth,” he said last week. “And because of that, we do not feel like we can back down.”

FBI agents have visited to talk about their concerns for Mr. Jones‘ safety, as multiple Facebook pages with thousands of members have popped up hailing him as either a hero or a dangerous pariah.

His plan has drawn formal condemnation from the world’s pre-eminent Sunni Muslim institution of learning, Al-Azhar University in Egypt, whose Supreme Council accused the church of stirring up hate and discrimination and called on other American churches speak out against it. Last month, Indonesian Muslims demonstrated outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, threatening violence if Mr. Jones goes through with his plans.

“Whenever there’s a perception that America is somehow anti-Muslim, that harms our image and interests around the Islamic world,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American Islamic Relations, a Washington-based Muslim civil rights group that has worked to discredit Mr. Jones and counter his message.

Associated Press writer Kimberly Dozier in Kabul, Afghanistan, contributed to this report.