Crowds took a united approach in their counter-protest of “Pastor” Terry Jones at the Islamic Center in Dearborn, Michigan, but Jones never showed up because he was jailed briefly after refusing to pay a one dollar peace bond. Jones has been at the center of controversy since the conservative, Fox-driven fear-mongering about Park 51’s placement blocks away from the 9/11 Ground Zero site last fall, when Republicans were behind Pastor Jones as part of their Get Out The Vote via sowing division campaign. Republicans later tepidly condemned Jones’ plans to burn the Quran, falsely equating that act with building Park 51 near Ground Zero. Jones was recently back in the news when he burned a Quran, which caused retaliation killing in Afghanistan.
The Detroit community rallied around the Islamic Center of America’s Muslim community Friday in front of the Henry Ford Centennial Library, waiting for Jones to appear. Hundreds of Atheists, Muslims, Jews, and Christians stood united against what they termed the “provocation” of Jones’ threatened protest.
Watch the protest here, courtesy of Dearborn Patch:
Wiley Pickett from the Islamic Center Board of Trustees said that they weren’t trying to silence Jones’ free speech, even though they were very emotional about the possibility of Jones’ burning the Quran. Pickett said their Imam condemned any violence toward Terry Jones, but Pickett was still worried about what the community might do in response to Jones.
A jury sided with the prosecution against Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida and his associate Wayne Sapp on Friday. The prosecution argued that Jones’ protest of the Mosque could lead to violence, based on threats received by the local police.
Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad testified that his department had received information about serious threats made against Jones from local residents, arguing that his protest could lead to violence if allowed.
Prosecutor Robert Moran argued that the protest had nothing to do with the First Amendment and that the community’s security and peace were at stake.
In the end, the jury sided with the prosecution and Judge Mark Somers set bond at the symbolic amount of a dollar each for the two pastors, which they initially refused to pay.
Under the judge’s ruling, both Jones and Sapp are now prohibited by the court from going to the mosque for three years.
The judge set bond for Jones and Sapp at one dollar each, but they initially refused to pay it. After an hour in jail, Jones and Sapp had a rethink and ponied up the two dollars and vowed to be back next week. Jones claims the Quran promotes terrorist activity around the world.
Jones has a dark past, as I wrote about last fall when a German news paper, Zeit Online, reported that the Pastor was convicted in Germany for holding a false PhD.
Stephen Baar, deputy chairman of the Christian Congregation of Cologne, which was co-founded with Pastor Jones, also says Jones was “prone to violence and fanaticism” and Baar remembers Jones as a pastor who had “not the biblical standards and values” worn on the outside, but rather “self as personality.”
In the German city of Cologne, the reason for Jones’ break with Baar were related to financial irregularities in the community of faith, with which Jones was associated. Furthermore, the German authorities had become aware of Jones and in 2002 he was convicted of the Cologne District Court of claiming a wrong doctorate and fined 3000 €.
“We distance ourselves from this action and do not want to be associated with it. We are very disturbed by [the plan]. Jones himself embodies the spirit he condemns – this propensity to violence, this fanaticism – within himself.” This is strong language coming from a church that Jones founded in Cologne in the 1980s after receiving a “sign from God.”
Jones first found his way into the spotlight courtesy of the Republican fear mongering about Park 51 last summer and early fall. Back then, they loved them some Pastor Jones. It was only after he threatened to burn the Quran and military leaders begged him not to, warning it would put our troops in danger overseas, that Republicans put out a tepid statement condemning the proposed act, but not before they got in pot-shots falsely equivocating it with building Park 51 within blocks of Ground Zero.
While it appears on the surface that this is an issue about an individual instance of free speech, it sheds light on a larger, systemic problem. America needs to face the glaring problem presented by Fox News and the Republicans who use fear to drive a wedge between Americans. While there will always be crazy people and people preaching hate and intolerance, we now have the largest cable “news” network not only giving them airtime but lending their hate credibility in the lead up, and then backing away at the last minute when the heat threatens to hold them accountable.
Last October, Sharron Angle suggested at a Tea Party rally that Muslims in Dearborn, Michigan were imposing a “militant terrorist situation” after a supporter told her they had heard “on TV” that Muslims were taking over a city in Detroit and the residents wanted them out. Gosh, where did they ever get that idea? Here’s Fox Nation “asking” their viewers if Sharia law being practiced in Dearborn, Michigan and suggesting that Christians were being persecuted in Dearborn by police.
Once again, we find acts of hate culminating from the same direction. Yes, words matter and misleading viewers about Christians being persecuted in Dearborn (they were not) and suggesting Dearborn is under Sharia Law has led us to this point, where Pastor Terry Jones is bringing his two-man con artist show of religious bigotry in the name of Jesus to an area where many different faiths co-exist in what should be deemed a model of tolerance and an homage to freedom of religion as intended by our founders.
It’s one thing when random crazy people say and so these things. It’s quite another when they are egged on by a supposedly legitimate news outlet and high-level political leaders of one of the two parties. And now, six months after their campaign of hate and fear stirred up this hatred aimed at Dearborn, Michigan, no one is holding any of them accountable for their words. Now we are once again talking about the “crazy” actions of a “random” nut job.
Not so fast, Fox.