DEARBORN, Mich. - Dearborn's mayor has written an open letter to the controversial Florida pastor who is planning to protest in the city Friday.
The Rev. Terry Jones, who drew international criticism by threatening to burn a copy of the Quran, says he will protest Islamic law and radical Islam outside Dearborn's Islamic Center of America.
The center is one of the nation's largest mosques. Dearborn is also home to one of the nation's largest populations of Arabs and Muslims.
In his letter, Mayor John B. O?Reilly Jr. writes that he can provide insight to Jones on the Constitution and the city.
"Dearborn supports the Constitution as well as any city in America. Our commitment to the Constitution is unwavering, not merely convenient, which makes your hyperbole about Sharia Law being practiced in the courts or civil law of Dearborn nonsensical," O'Reilly wrote. "So, you are coming to protest against an imaginary threat that doesn?t exist in our community. Not in our courts, not at our City Hall, not on our streets and not in any of our places of worship."
O?Reilly also writes that no one is preventing Jones from exercising free speech but asks that Jones demonstrate in front of City Hall and not the Islamic Center.
"The Constitution says that your rights must be balanced with the rights of others under the same document. Your free speech rights do not allow you to trespass on the private property of others or prevent them from the Constitutional right to freely practice their religion. I am not just talking about Muslims but members of all faiths," he wrote.
The Gainesville, Fla., pastor has said he has nothing against peaceful Muslims, but worries about Islamic law coming to the United States.
"You claim that you are coming to protest the radicalism of Islam. Like all of America, we are concerned about the radicalization of any religion that would rationalize extreme actions. However we have not let this concern turn into a twisted paranoia that promotes fear-mongering and misleading generalizations," O'Reilly wrote. "You state that you are coming to the Islamic Center of America because it is the largest mosque in America. What does that have to do with the radicalism of Islam? While size may matter to you, we prefer to focus on actual behavior. And according to our Police Department and the anti-terrorism agencies they work with, there has never been evidence of any wrongdoing in any of Dearborn?s mosques. "
The Fraternal Order of the Dragon, who had planned the protest, has since canceled their rally after meeting with city officials. Jones, however, said he still plans on showing up.
The Wayne County prosecutor's office said they are asking Jones to appear in court on Thursday, to argue he should post a "peace bond" to pay for police protection.
Mayor O'Reilly told Local 4 the cost of extra police protection if Jones proceeds with his planned protest at the Islamic Center could be as high as $30,000 and the city is preparing for anything.
"What we're going to do is simply be prepared to call in additional officers if the situation warrants it and we have relationships with state police, the county sheriff's and others and that's a huge cost," O'Reilly said.
The mayor said any protest at the Islamic Center is further complicated by the lack of parking at the site. Nearby Christian churches will have parking lots filled with Good Friday services at the time of the planned protest.
He repeated his suggestion that if Jones wants to stage a demonstration, the Dearborn City Hall would be a preferred location.
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