Arrest US Quran-burning pastor: Iranian ayatollah

A US pastor has proclaimed September 11 `International Burn a Quran Day`.

Tehran: A senior Iranian ayatollah on Wednesday harshly condemned plans by a US pastor to burn copies of the Quran on the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, calling on the US administration to arrest him.

"On behalf of a half billion Muslims, I condemn this savage plan and warn of its consequences," Ayatollah Safi Golpaygani, one of the senior clergy figures in Iran, said in a statement.

Terry Jones, who leads an evangelical congregation of just 50 people at the Dove World Outreach Centre in Gainesville, Florida, has proclaimed Saturday `International Burn a Quran Day`.

"This pastor should be immediately arrested and his church closed down," the ayatollah said in the statement, which was carried on the website of Iran`s state-television IRIB.

He further warned that if such a "gruesome and inhuman act" took place, Muslims would hold the administration of President Barack Obama responsible for it.

The ayatollah further said that desecrating the Quran would not only insult Muslims worldwide, but also the followers of Jesus Christ, his mother Mary and prophet Moses.

IRIB carried the news as one of its top items in its night edition, but clarified that US officials - namely Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - have condemned the pastor`s proposal.

In a special programme, however, IRIB blamed the US and the West for Islamophobia in their countries and demanded the adoption of policies to halt the trend, so as to prevent violent religious discord in the world.