Burn Quran Day: NY mayor defends pastor's right

Written by: Samyuktha
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Michael Bloomberg
New York, Sep 8: Amid the heated debate over a Florida church's plan to burn Qurans on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defended the pastor's right to do so.

"In a strange way I'm here to defend his right to do that. I happen to think that it is distasteful. I don't think he would like it if somebody burnt a book that in his religion he thinks is holy," Mr Bloomberg said during a news conference.

"But the First Amendment protects everybody and you can't say that we're going to apply the First Amendment to only those cases where we are in agreement," the Mayor said while updating the public on the progress of rebuilding at the World Trade Center site.

However, Bloomberg noted that burning copies of the Quran (or Korans) could put "our young men and women overseas and America itself in greater danger than it was already," reported the Wall Street Journal.

"If you want to be able to say what you want to say when the time comes that you want to say it, you have to defend others no matter how much you disagree with them," Mr Bloomberg said.

Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, under the leadership of pastor Terry Jones, will be observing an 'International Burn a Quran Day' in honour of victims of the Sep 11, 2001 attack.

The church has invited all to join the quran burning which will be held at its premises from 6 pm to 9 pm on Sep 11, 2010.

"We believe that Islam is of the devil, that it's causing billions of people to go to hell, it is a deceptive religion, it is a violent religion and that is proven many, many times," church pastor Terry Jones had told CNN earlier.

The Mayor's remarks are being seen in line with his support to the controversial Ground Zero mosque.

Mr Bloomberg has become an outspoken advocate of a controversial proposal to build a mosque and Islamic cultural center two blocks from Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, WSJ noted, recalling his earlier statement that there is "nowhere in the five boroughs of New York City that is off limits to any religion".

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