Transit worker fired for burning Quran sues state
TRENTON, N.J. (RNS) On the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terror
attacks, Derek Fenton stole headlines by burning pages from the Quran in
lower Manhattan to protest a planned Islamic community center there. Two
days later, he lost his job at New Jersey Transit for breaching the
agency's code of ethics.
The American Civil Liberties Union says Fenton should get his job
back. The group filed suit Friday (Nov. 5) in U.S. District Court,
saying Fenton was unconstitutionally fired for exercising his free
"If you allow governments to censor one kind of speech, you open the
door to censorship of all kinds of speech," said Deborah Jacobs,
executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey. "Our individual right to
free speech depends on everybody having it."
A spokeswoman for NJ Transit declined to comment on Thursday. When
Fenton was fired, the agency released a statement saying it had
"concluded that Mr. Fenton violated his trust as a state employee and
therefore was dismissed."
Two months ago Fenton waded into a roiling international debate over
free speech, religious freedom and Islam's place in America.
Terry Jones, a pastor from Florida, had already announced plans to
burn the Koran on Sept. 11. Fueled by round-the-clock media coverage, it
quickly became one of the world's most inflammatory topics. Jones
eventually decided not to burn the Koran.