A federal judge ruled Thursday in favor of Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones, saying he can protest this Saturday outside a Dearborn, Mich., mosque without having to sign a legal agreement from the city of Dearborn.
U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood ruled in favor of Jones, who intends to hold a protest against Islamic extremism at the biggest mosque in metro Detroit. The city of Dearborn has said it wanted Jones to sign a "hold harmless" agreement that would require the Florida pastor to forfeit all legal rights stemming from any possible incident at the planned protest.
Earlier this week, the Thomas More Law Center, a conservative Christian group in Ann Arbor, filed a lawsuit against the city on behalf of Jones, saying his constitutional rights were being attacked by the city because of the requirement to sign the "hold harmless" agreement.
Judge Hood said the requirement "violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution."
Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas Law Center, said today in a statement about the judge's ruling: "Dearborn has a history of discriminating against Christians who want to speak out against the internal threat of Sharia law and Islam. And every time the City attempts to curtail the Constitutional rights of Christians, we will confront them in a court of law. There is no doubt in my mind that the City knew the Hold Harmless agreement they were trying to get Jones's organization to sign was unconstitutional."
The city of Dearborn has said it respects the free speech rights of all. Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly has said that the claim that the city is under sharia is ridiculous.
City spokeswoman Mary Laundroche said earlier this week that "the city has asked Mr. Jones and his group to sign a hold harmless agreement because the grassy area he would like to demonstrate on is not developed for pedestrian use. The hold harmless would protect the city from potential injuries. The city offered the group a chance to write its own hold harmless agreement for the city's review. It has not done so."
Jones tried to rally last year outside the Islamic Center, but was blocked by a judge who ordered him to stay away from the mosque for three years. That decision was later overturned by a Detroit judge.
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