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Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville will face trial before mosque protest in Michigan

An interfaith group rallies Thursday outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Mich., to show unity and to condemn a protest planned for today by Terry Jones at the mosque. A burning of the Koran last month at Jones’ church in Gainesville outraged many Muslims. 

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An interfaith group rallies Thursday outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Mich., to show unity and to condemn a protest planned for today by Terry Jones at the mosque. A burning of the Koran last month at Jones’ church in Gainesville outraged many Muslims. 

DEARBORN, Mich. — Florida pastor Terry Jones will face a jury trial today after a judge sided with Wayne County prosecutors and police who were trying to make him pay a bond in order to rally outside the Islamic Center of America, the biggest mosque in Dearborn.

At a hearing Thursday, Judge Mark Somers gave Jones a choice: either pay a bond or face a jury trial on whether he must pay a bond.

Jones refused and will now face a trial, Somers ruled. By the end of the day, a jury of six, plus one alternate, was selected. The trial is scheduled to start this morning.

Jones told the court he was concerned the delay might prevent him from attending a rally at 5 p.m. outside the mosque. He called the trial another way to deprive him of his rights.

After the hearing concluded, Jones spoke to a crush of reporters, saying he's concerned about "the radical element in Islam."

As Jones spoke, a group of Muslims began yelling at him. Leyla Abdul-Ghani shouted, "Shame on you! We are decent, hard-working people!" Samira Hider, who came with her family, yelled, "Have you read the Koran?"

Jones appeared in court with the Rev. Wayne Sapp, who burned a Koran last month in Florida under Jones' supervision, setting off violent protests in the Muslim world.

Earlier, the ACLU of Michigan and others slammed local authorities for trying to deny Jones the right to protest outside the Islamic Center of America.

The government should "not impinge on a person's right to protest, even when their speech is as distasteful and offensive as Rev. Jones' is," said Rana Elmir, communications director for the Michigan ACLU.

Dearborn police Chief Ron Haddad said there are logistical and security problems to having Jones protest, noting that Jones has received numerous death threats and has a $1.2 million bounty on his head from a Pakistan-based terrorist group. Moreover, the mosque is surrounded by churches that have planned Good Friday services, making traffic an issue, he said.

Majed Moughni, a Dearborn lawyer who said he burned Jones in effigy last year, now stands with Jones.

"The prosecutors should withdraw their demands and let him speak as he wishes, which is his right under the Constitution," he said.

Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville will face trial before mosque protest in Michigan 04/22/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 22, 2011 12:12am]

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