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Gingrich goes to bat for missionaries

DEARBORN, Mich., Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich has accused police in Dearborn, Mich., of enforcing Islamic law when they arrested four Christian missionaries.

In a newsletter e-mailed July 28, Gingrich said the four, members of a small group called Acts 17 Apologetics, were acting in a legal manner on a public street outside a Muslim festival, The Detroit News reported Wednesday.

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"This is a clear case of freedom of speech and the exercise of religious freedom being sacrificed in deference to Shariah's intolerance against the preaching of religions other than Islam," he said. Shariah is the legal code of Islam.

Dearborn officials, including Mayor Jack O'Reilly, said the four were trying to get publicity by provoking a reaction at the festival in June. Other Christian groups were at the festival without having any difficulties with police or public, they said.

The four are scheduled to appear in court Aug. 19 to face a misdemeanor charge. While supporters say they were simply handing out literature and talking to people, police say they "escalated their behavior."

The group made a video about the festival last year which was allegedly edited to show Muslims and Dearborn in a bad light.

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Gingrich is also an outspoken opponent of plans to build an Islamic center, including a mosque, two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center. The New York City Landmarks Commission refused Tuesday to declare a building now on the property historic.

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