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Fla. pastor pledges protest in Mich.

DETROIT — Florida pastor Terry Jones said Saturday that he plans to protest this week at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Mich., despite a judge's order that he stay away from the mosque for three years.

Jones, who drew attention for burning a Koran at his small Gainesville church last month, said his rights were violated Friday by a judge due to the influence of Islamic law. "We plan to protest next week in front of the Islamic Center," Jones said.

"The arrests, the whole proceedings, were a definite violation of our constitutional rights," Jones added. "As a matter of fact, we were arrested and had not even committed a crime. It is a complete violation of our First Amendment right of freedom of speech. It was clearly influenced by the mosque."

Jones had wanted to protest Friday against jihad and sharia outside the Islamic Center, but was thwarted by authorities. The center is the largest mosque in metropolitan Detroit, a region with a sizable Muslim population.

On Friday, Judge Mark Somers ordered that Jones and pastor Wayne Sapp be remanded to jail after a jury determined they would be likely to breach the peace. In his decision, Somers set a $1 cash bond for Jones and Sapp, and also said Jones and Sapp could not go to the mosque or adjacent property for three years.

The only exception would be if the leadership of the mosque, such as its board, decided it would be all right for him to visit, Somers said.

Jones said that was an example of the influence of sharia, or Islamic law, in Dearborn.

"Sharia is much closer than we thought," Jones said. "The judge even made a statement, that if the mosque elders and leadership would have desired the restraints placed on us of not going near the mosque be lifted, then he would have taken that into consideration. Thus proving that this whole thing is a direct violation of freedom of speech and that they are favoring the religion of Islam."

Jones also questioned why he was allowed to protest at a free-speech zone in front of Dearborn City Hall, but not at the mosque.

Dearborn Mayor John O'Reilly Jr. said he and his city fully support free speech, but added that the right is not absolute. It has to take into consideration the rights of others and public safety. He has said repeatedly that there is no sharia being practiced by Dearborn officials.

The mayor said Friday that police will take appropriate action if Jones decides to ignore the judge's orders to stay away from the mosque.

Fla. pastor pledges protest in Mich. 04/23/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 23, 2011 9:44pm]
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