Bloomberg, Cautiously, Defends Florida Pastor Who Plans to Burn Qurans

Wednesday, Sep 8, 2010  |  Updated 6:50 AM EDT
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Although he finds the holy book burning personally distasteful, <a title=Mayor Michael Bloomberg says that it is our duty as Americans to respect's everyone's Constitutional rights." />

Although he finds the holy book burning personally distasteful, Mayor Michael Bloomberg says that it is our duty as Americans to respect's everyone's Constitutional rights.

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg says a minister's plan to burn the Muslim holy book on Sept. 11 is "distasteful" but says the minister has a right to do it.

Bloomberg was asked Tuesday about Pastor Terry Jones' announced plan to burn the Quran on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the terror attacks, amid a national debate about a planned Islamic center near Ground Zero. The mayor is one of the center's strongest supporters.

The mayor says that he doesn't think Jones would like it if someone burned a book that Jones thinks is holy.

Bloomberg also noted that the United States' top commander in Afghanistan has called the book burning a bad idea.

"I think General [David] Petraeus pointed out that this perhaps puts our men and woman overseas, and America itself, in greater danger than it was already," said the mayor.

But he says Jones' planned act is protected by free speech rights, and "we can't say that we're going to apply the First Amendment to only those cases where we are in agreement."

He added, "If you want to be able to say what you want to say when the times comes that you want to say it, you have to defend others no matter how much you disagree with them."
 

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