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Terry Jones: How free speech and Quran burning can lead to violence

The violent reaction to Terry Jones burning the Quran at his tiny Florida church continued to spread Saturday, and with it questions about freedom of expression with murderous results.

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“I believe we need to take this evidence, we need to take this action and those people and those countries should be held accountable,” he said. “I believe the US needs to stand up. I believe the UN needs to stand up to countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Muslim-dominated countries. They have been persecuting, killing Christians for generations.”

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On its web site, the Dove World Outreach Center describes Islam as “a violent and oppressive religion that is trying to masquerade itself as a religion of peace, seeking to deceive our society.”

Meanwhile, Jones plans to join an “anti-Sharia law” protest outside the Islamic Center of America on April 22 in Dearborn, Mich., which has a large population of Arab Americans. The protest has been organized by an obscure northern Michigan militia group called “Order of the Dragon.”

Religious leaders in the area are concerned about the impact of such an event.

"Everything he's doing here is a violation of the Gospel," Pastor Ed Rowe of the Central United Methodist Church told the Fox News affiliate in Detroit.

The controversial Westboro Baptist Church also has burned the Quran. The Topeka, Kan., church is best known for its anti-gay protests, often held at the funerals of American soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While such activities held by the Westboro Baptist Church and the Dove World Outreach Center may be highly offensive to most Americans – and may, in fact, incite others to violence – they are generally protected as free speech.

Last month, the US Supreme Court upheld the right of the Westboro Baptist Church to hold its protests at military funerals.

“Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and – as it did here – inflict great pain,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion for a case brought by the father of a Marine killed in Iraq. “On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.”

RELATED: 11 countries speaking out against Quran burning in Florida

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