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Published: Friday, 4/22/2011

Consider the source

A religious bigot from Florida says he'll be in Dearborn, Mich., this evening to inveigh against Islam, if a jury allows it. Muslim Americans and all others in southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio should give this event all the attention it deserves: zero.

This obnoxious self-promoter calls himself a Christian pastor. That title may give him too much credit, since his nondenominational church has only about 30 members.

Two of his own daughters have quit the church; one now says she doesn't "want to have anything to do with him." Other former church members say the pastor was less interested in saving their souls than in making money off the mostly-unpaid labor he demanded of them.

This is not to say his activities are harmless. After he staged a phony trial last month of the Qur'an, the Islamic holy book, for "crimes against humanity," a lackey soaked a copy of the book in kerosene and set it on fire.

That deliberate incitement, broadcast online, generated protests by thousands of people in Afghanistan. Seven foreign employees and guards of the United Nations were killed in Mazar-i-Sharif. In Kandahar, 12 protesters died in clashes with police.

The opportunistic pastor gained attention last year by exploiting political protests against a plan to build a Muslim cultural center near the former site of the World Trade Center in New York, ground zero of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Then, too, he threatened to burn a Qur'an.

Fresh from these triumphs of reasoned discourse, the pastor says he will come to Dearborn -- armed -- to warn against "the radicalization of Islam." In a regrettable move of dubious constitutionality, local officials want a jury to order him to post a "peace bond" before the protest.

The choice of the protest site is no accident. Dearborn has one of the highest populations of Arab Muslims outside the Middle East. A mosque near the site of the planned demonstration is the largest in the United States.

The absurd notion that Dearborn is governed by Islamic sharia law is not limited to the pastor; such supposedly mainstream politicians as Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich also parrot it. Denying the charge, Dearborn's mayor notes that his city is home to three strip clubs and a sausage factory near a mosque.

The spiritual leader of the mosque targeted by the protest says he is urging other Muslims not to give the pastor the confrontation he desires. Religious leaders will hold an interfaith service in Dearborn at the same time as the protest.

The pastor has the constitutional right to express his ideas, however crackpot. Everyone else has an equal right to ignore this hatemonger. We'd mention his name, but we're out of space.



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