Koran-burning pastor jailed in Dearborn

April 23, 2011 at 11:15 AM
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DEARBORN, Mich., April 23 (UPI) -- A constitutional law professor says a trial and the brief jailing of two Florida pastors who wanted to demonstrate outside a Michigan mosque is "bizarre."

Florida pastors Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp were briefly jailed Friday in Dearborn after refusing to pay a $1 peace bond following a trial that found they would breach the peace if allowed to hold a rally outside the Islamic Center of America, the Detroit Free Press reported Saturday.

"The judge should have thrown out the case," said Robert Sedler, constitutional law professor at Wayne State University.

Sedler said the entire process was "bizarre" and that "the whole thing is unconstitutional." He cited U.S. Supreme Court cases backing up Jones' right to protest. The Michigan ACLU also criticized the case.

"This is a complete abuse of the court process, and all those involved should be ashamed," said Rana Elmir of the ACLU Michigan office. "The prosecutor's office and the Dearborn court turned the First Amendment on its head. What happened today should never have happened. This is a true miscarriage of Justice."

Jones and Sapp have been in the news for burning a Koran, the Islamic holy book. They planned a protest outside the Dearborn mosque, but 19th District Court Judge Mark Sommers banned the men from going near the mosque for three years.

Jones defended the Constitution, saying other than the Bible it is the greatest book in history.

"The one thing that makes the Constitution great is the First Amendment," Jones told the jury. "The First Amendment does us no good if it confines us to saying what is popular."

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