Koran-burning vs. free speech and freedom of religion

Fundamentalist Christian pastor Terry Jones who incited riots in Afghanistan following a Koran-burning is now planning an armed rally at the largest mosque in the US.

Jones and his followers are set to descend on Detroit suburb Dearborn, Michigan – a large Muslim-American community. They intend top rally outside the mosque on Good Friday and they plan to be armed.

Many are now taking a look at what extend free speech and free religion should be exercised. Some argue Americans want free religion, but not free speech and often object to Koran-burnings.

Haroon Moghul, the director of the New York University Islamic Center said Americans respect the right to free speech and the freedom of religion; being Muslim and being American are not at odds.

Which is more important however, free speech or protecting the Koran from being burnt?

As Americans the Constitution is important, he explained, and the Constitution grants both free speech and freedom of religion.

Speaking about the riots and protests in Afghanistan Moghul said the people of Afghanistan are upset with their government and with NATO. They are upset over the US war; the response was not about hatred of America or the Koran burning. That simple became a scapegoat, he contended.

What happened in Afghanistan really doesn’t have to do with Terry Jones and burning the Koran,” he said. “We have to look just beyond Islam, and beyond the Koran burning.”

Both sides need to understand free speech can exist with free religion, Islam and free speech are not mutually exclusive, he argued.

Muslims want freedom of speech and freedom of religion,” Moghul said.