The pastor of a small Florida church and his associate who planned to burn the Quran on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks in 2010 were briefly jailed in a heavily Islamic suburb after he refused to pay a “peace bond” before staging a protest outside a mosque in Michigan, one of America’s largest industrial states and the home of the automobile industry in the United States.
A local judge decided to jail the pastor of Gainesville’s Dove World Outreach Center and associate pastor Wayne Sapp after a jury ruled that the two ministers’ planned protest outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan, could lead to violence.
The public prosecutor argued that the protest had nothing to do with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, and at stake were security and peace in the community.
The jury set bond at the symbolic amount of $1 each for the two pastors, which they initially refused to pay.
Following their refusal, both men were escorted to a local jail. But local media reported that both men changed their minds after spending about an hour behind bars and posted the $1 bond.
Mr. Jones and his followers had planned to burn copies of the Holy Quran on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks and his plans drew worldwide outrage and condemnation.
Eventually he decided to cancel the event that he had termed “International Burn a Quran Day.”
But in a bid to return to the public limelight, he decided to organize a “trial” on March 20 in which the Quran was “convicted and executed”—by burning, of course.
The event prompted violent protests in Afghanistan and wide international condemnation, including from President Barack Obama of the United States, who said, “The desecration of any holy text, including the Quran, is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry.”
Dearborn is home to the largest Islamic community in the United States. In the 2000 census, Arab Americans comprised 30 percent of Dearborn’s population of 98,000.
(Mustapha Ajbaili of Al Arabiya can be reached at: Mustapha.firstname.lastname@example.org.)