Ingham prosecutor says Quran burning not a hate crime
Oralandar Brand-Williams / The Detroit News
Detroit --Local Muslim leaders are upset prosecutors won't pursue charges against a man who burned a Quran outside an East Lansing mosque.
Stuart Dunnings III, prosecuting attorney in Ingham County, said Wednesday that authorities "didn't find there was any violation of Michigan law."
Burning a holy book, whose pages were found outside the Islamic Center of East Lansing on Sept. 11, doesn't qualify as a hate crime, Dunnings said.
"We don't have a hate crime. There was no threat of physical intimidation because (the man who burned the Quran) was the only one there at the time," Dunnings said.
The act also was protected by the First Amendment, said Dunnings, who equated it to burning a flag.
"It can also fall under drunken stupidity," he said.
The incident, which occurred on the ninth anniversary of the 2001 terror attacks, prompted worldwide condemnation and rioting in India.
A Lansing man, whose identity has not been released, told police he burned the holy book. He should face federal charges, said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan.
"Not to prosecute this hate crime would send a terrible message to bigots that there will be no legal repercussion against those who intimidate Muslims at their houses of worship," Walid said.
Officials at the Islamic Center said that while they "had wished from the very beginning that the individual who burnt the Quran be forgiven," he has hurt a lot of people.
"While this individual may not have broken any Michigan law, he has caused tremendous grief to a lot of people both locally and beyond our community," wrote Dr. Mahmoud Mousa, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Lansing.
He said the mosque has a "Learn, Don't Burn" campaign that gives away Qurans free to promote understanding.
"We should all promote a message of mutual respect and tolerance. If anything, this incident has strengthened the will and determination of our communities to live together in peace and harmony," Mousa said.
"We hope this will be the message that the rest of the world learns from this unfortunate incident," he said.
"We wish that no race, religion or community would undergo the pain that we underwent."
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From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100923/...#ixzz10NvyKCG5