April 23, 2011 in Nation/World

Controversial pastors briefly jailed

Won’t post $1 bond or avoid mosque
Niraj Warikoo Detroit Free Press
 
Associated Press photo

Florida pastor Terry Jones makes his closing argument to the jury in Dearborn, Mich., on Friday.
(Full-size photo)

DEARBORN, Mich. – In a stunning turn after a chaotic, tense day in Dearborn, two Christian pastors seeking to protest outside the city’s largest mosque were sent to jail Friday after refusing to post a $1 bond and ordered to stay away from the mosque and adjacent property for three years.

The decision surprised supporters of Florida pastor Terry Jones and his assistant, Wayne Sapp. Supporters said they couldn’t believe Jones was being jailed before he even attempted to visit the mosque, the Islamic Center of America.

As reporters waited outside the courthouse for Jones to emerge, several police officers later said Jones had posted the bond and left the building by another exit.

The move came after a six-person jury ruled in a daylong trial that the rally Jones wanted to hold would breach the peace. The rally has been controversial because Jones and Sapp burned a copy of the Quran last month in Florida, setting off protests in Muslim countries worldwide.

“Are you prepared to post the $1 bond?” Judge Mark Somers asked Jones.

“Uh,” Jones said, pausing for a brief moment before declaring: “No.”

Sapp similarly refused.

Dearborn police led Jones and Sapp away after they were remanded to Wayne County Jail by Somers, the son of Christian missionaries.

The trial was ordered on Thursday to determine whether the rally would breach the peace. The Islamic center is next to six churches. Jones and Sapp argued that the First Amendment gave them the right to rally there, but prosecutors said the right can be limited in certain situations. And this was one of them, given that it was Good Friday, pedestrian access near the mosque is limited and that Jones might draw violent protesters given his Quran-burning.

During closing arguments, Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Moran said the pastors would disturb the peace if they were allowed to protest Friday at the mosque.


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