Terry Jones has popped up again getting another hit of his addiction: media attention.
Jones, the controversial pastor from a small church in Florida who threatened to burn the Quran, then didn’t, and then did, is in the press again for a protest he planned for today — one of the holiest days in Christianity — in front of the largest mosque in the country in Dearborn, Mich., in what is a continuation of his fight against what he calls the evil that is Islam.
We’re no longer a stranger to Jones’ hateful screed. When he first threatened to burn the Quran last September, Jones got plenty of publicity and plenty of pleas not to through with it. He relented, but was at it again last month and this time he went through with it. The news of a kerosene-soaked Quran being lit aflame in Jones’ church caused a major uproar in Afghanistan, where more than a dozen people paid for Jones’ publicity stunt with their lives.
But in his latest bid for publicity, two pretty neat things happened. For one, it brought people of all faiths together to speak out against hate and against Jones. The Dearborn Press and Guide is reporting that last night hundreds of people of all faiths gathered at the Islamic Center of America, site of Jones’ planned protest.
By comparison, Jones’ Quran burning drew all of about 30 people, a number that’s below the total membership at his Florida church. This is your sign that tolerance and understanding will always be more popular than what Jones is peddling.
Here’s how the Press and Guide reported it:
The attendees were from different religions and ethnicities; among them were Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly and Congressman John Dingell. Chairman of the InterFaith Leadership Council Bob Bruttell led the ceremony and introduced the speakers.
Archbishop Allen Vigneron of the Archdiocese of Detroit, the Rev. Charles Williams from King Solomon Baptist Church, the Rev. George Shalhoub of St. Mary Antiochan Orthodox Church, Imam Mustapha Elturk of the Imams Council of Michigan and Imam Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini of the Islamic Center gave speeches denouncing Jones, who is known for burning the Quran.
The event, each speaker said, was an act of solidarity among the different religious and ethnic groups in Southeastern Michigan. Al-Qazwini said they must confront hatred with love and bigotry with understanding.
Whether you’re religious, spiritual, or none of the above, reading this should at least renew your faith in humanity.
The other neat thing is that Jones’ latest stunt shows us what Dearborn, Mich., isn’t.
Dearborn, a city of about 100,000 with a sizable Muslim community in the southeastern part of the state, has been much maligned by those on the far right who claim the city is the headquarters of an Islamic plot to take over the country. Its courts, they claim, have thrown out the U.S. Constitution and are now issuing rulings based only on Sharia law.
Texas’ own state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, has authored a bill that would ban the use of Sharia law in Texas courts (it’s already not allowed, so his bill is therefore nothing but a cheapshot at American Muslims) and has pointed to Dearborn as the reason why the legislation is needed.
Asked to back up his claim that Dearborn has been overrun by Sharia, Rep. Berman in the same breath admitted he doesn’t know much about Dearborn and that he “heard it on a radio station here on my way in to the Capitol one day.”
Now back to Jones, who yesterday and today has been in Dearborn courtrooms fighting for the right to hold his protest. City police have said they won’t allow it unless Jones pays a “peace bond” for the increased security they would have to provide. Jones is getting a fair chance to argue his case in those same courtrooms that Rep. Berman says are run by Sharia law.
Dear Rep. Berman, if your falsehoods about Dearborn were true, would Jones even be getting that chance? If Dearborn is such a hotbed of Muslim radicalism as you and your supporters claim it is, would Jones even be allowed to set one foot in town?
The answers are “No” and “No.”
So Terry Jones for once did something good. He didn’t intend to, but he did.
Sometimes the worst people bring out the best in people.