NJ Senator: Koran Burner Shouldn’t Lose His Job

Says Actions Irresponsible, But First Amendment Protects

BLOOMINGDALE, N.J. (CBS 2) – A NJ Transit worker was fired from his job after he burned pages of the Koran on his day off. While most say the burning was an intolerant act, some are questioning whether his constitutional rights were violated.

Derek Fenton was not on the job when he tore out pages from the Koran and lit them on fire. It happened at a protest near the site of the proposed mosque near ground zero, reports CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.

Soon after, the 39-year-old was fired from his job as an assistant train coordinator.

On Wednesday, Fenton didn’t answer the door at his house in Bloomingdale, where the American flag flies prominently.

But some, like State Sen. Ray Lesniak, who is also an attorney, were coming to his defense, saying his actions are protected by the constitution no matter how irresponsible.

“What he did was self-centered. He didn’t care about anyone else but himself and he put people lives in jeopardy, but it had nothing to do with his responsibilities on the job. And most importantly, it’s protected by the First Amendment,” said Lesniak, D-Union County.

NJ Transit, however, disagrees, and said in a statement: “Mr. Fenton’s public actions violated NJ Transit’s code of ethics. NJ Transit concluded that Mr. Fenton violated his trust as a state employee and therefore was dismissed.”

Sloan asked the agency for its code of ethics, but no one got back to her on Wednesday.

In Fenton’s neighborhood, residents had opinions, too.

“Part of being in America is that you have freedom of religion, freedom of speech. Would I burn the Koran? No, because they are extremists, yes. But there are people who follow that are not like, but should not get fired over something … I don’t see how they could have violated his rights that way,” resident Christine Gaccione said.

When asked about the burning, another person said, “It’s just paper.”

Conservative Florida pastor Terry Jones tried to burn a Koran on Sept. 11 and military officials told him it would threaten the lives of soldiers in Afghanistan.

As for Fenton, because he isn’t talking we’re not sure what he plans on doing and whether there were other issues that led to his termination at NJ Transit.

The American Civil Liberties Union said a person cannot be fired for off-the-job political expression when employed in a non-policy-related role.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Mike says:

    The more the government does to prohibit expression, the more the government is REQUIRED to prohibit expression and BLAMED for failing to do so. If they can fire a man for burning a Koran, then they appear prejudiced if they don’t fire a man for burning the Bible. Or for tearing up Scientology tracts. And every group will feel compelled to turn out and demonstrate for their “right” to keep people from making fun of their religion. Where does it end? It ends right here, right now, when you and I get off our butts and pay some fresh dues to the ACLU.

  2. fern says:

    Anna Dean,
    all religions are fascistic, one pope even said it “the Vatican is no democracy”.
    Being atheïstic one carries his Christian culture and so do the Muslims, so we’re heading toward a culture clash and the flags that will be carried in these battles will be religious flags, a little little like the Catholic Irish against the Protestant Irish.
    This said the comments were mostly funny and I had a good time.
    What would we do without some idiotic comments?

  3. ezflyer13 says:

    Yes, he deserves his job back, a promotion and a raise plus a thank you from all of us for not holding back and enjoying what freedom and liberty stands for. This double standard has to stop…then go after them with a lawsuit..

  4. morris wise says:

    An apology to the worlds Muslims on prime time and community service in a mosque should be enough to restore Fenton to his former job.

    1. william massey says:

      I don’t believe this man should be punished for exercising his rights. And I most certainly do not believe that attending a mosque should be used as such. Attending a mosque should be done freely, willingly and often. If he wants to attend salat to gain understanding, he may see that we are no different than he. We all have the same hopes and fears, joys and sorrows

  5. Marty Weinstein says:

    God bless Allah and he bringeth wrath to everyone opposed to him

    1. fern says:

      Allah is God you dill dough

  6. william massey says:

    I am a Muslim. I don’t burn books, anybody’s book. I don’t burn flags, anybody’s flag. I think that it is very disrespectful and I won’t do it regardless of what others may do for whatever reason they feel the need to. It is a pointless exercise that resolves nothing.

    However, this man (like all the people) has the right to do just that, express himself and what he believes in. And he should be able to exercise that right no matter how repulsive it may seem to us. This man losing his job because of his actions is more repulsive and offensive to me.

    For this man to lose his job for his expression is a slap in the face of a great nation and what it should stand for. I don’t agree with him, nor do I condone what he did. But what he did is his right and shame on NJT for trying to stifle that right.

    1. samer says:

      Agree 100%

  7. FreedomOfSpeech says:

    What Fenton did is not illegal and he was not acting as a representative of NJ Transit or while on NJ Transit time. NJ Transit, or any private U.S. corporation, does not have the right to deprive a U.S. citizen of his/her legal and civil rights through intimidation and punishment.

  8. Rafia says:

    Quran is d word of ALLAH, n ALLAH has taken d responsibility of protectin it in Lohe-mehfooz

  9. John Doe says:

    Have we read and studied the Quran with an open mind? If we have not, then it’s unfair for us to comment on the holy book.

    1. fern says:

      Was the Koran or the Bible written with an open mind? then it’s fair for us to comment on the holy book.

  10. zol says:

    Muslims don t want christians to practice their religion in their country but want to come here and practice theirs . HYPOCRITES

  11. will_lim1@yahoo.com says:

    The bombing of Catholic churches in Indonesia a while back was very disrespectful and sinful, and the burning of Koran is also sinful. Religious leaders must meet and put a stop to this.

  12. jme says:

    it’s ok to burn the american flag – behead our soldiers, but we can’t burn the Koran – every copy in this country should be burned – how dare they fire that man who did it – freedom – isn’t that we stand for.

  13. PIchou says:

    Talking about hate, Islam is at the forefront. Read the Quran, Hadith and Sunnah then only you will understand what Islam is all about. Conquest and Submission.

  14. SAM I AM says:

    A HARDWORKING MAN OF 11 YEARS LOSES HIS JOB BECAUSE HIS ACTION MAY INCITE RADICAL LUNATICS?

    WHERE ARE HIS RIGHTS?

    I SMELL A HUGE LAWSUIT.

  15. KABIR says:

    anna you got islam wrong

    1. nj lover says:

      Burning a religious sylbol of any kind is wrong, but is not illegal.

      The man was acting as a private person, not a rep for nj transit.

      regardless, it will incite the crazies.
      where are the moderate muslims now?
      no where .
      they do not exist.

  16. KABIR says:

    AS A MUSLIM I WILL NOT SUPPORT BURNING OF THE HOLY BIBLE OR MAKING DERGATORY STATEMENTS AGAINST CHRISTIANS OR THEIR FAITH, AFTERALL THE PROPHET HAS ONCE SENT HIS FOLLOWERS TO BE SELTERED BY A CHRISTIAN KING IN ETHIOPIA WHICH RESULTED IN THE TREATY OF HUDDAYBIYYA, HOWEVER ITS NOT IN THE INTEREST OF PEACE FOR ALL OF US TO BE ACTING IN THIS UGLY MANNER, ITS PAYS NO ONE WITH ANY GOOD. BUT FOR MUSLIMS REMEMBER ALLAH SWT HAS PROMISED TO DEFEND HIS RELIGION AND HIS BOOK SO ALL YOU OUT THERE LEAVE ALL TO HIM.

    1. ALICE says:

      YOU DON’T HAVE TIO SUPPORT IT, BUT THERE IS NO LAW TO STOP IT.
      OR THE BURNING OF OUR FLAG OR OUR BIBLE.

      WELCOME TO AMERICA WHERE THERE ARE RIGHTS FOR EVERYTHING.

      YOU ASKED FOR IT YOU GOT IT.

    2. fern says:

      Let’s have Allah o’ Akbar deal the punishment himself and not use stooges like he did on the twin towers.

  17. bill says:

    Go get them Annie

  18. winston k moss says:

    the game plan of the illumanti is divide n conquer through religious means or political.the west wants and needs the ultimate source which drives our worlds.BLACK GOLD(OIL).I’M SO GLAD I’M SPIRITUAL BUT I FOLLOW NO SET RELIGION LIKE SHEEP.1LOVE SANG BY BOB MARLEY

  19. Bill says:

    Where were all the outraged Muslims when Muslims were cutting off Max Berg’s head on TV

    1. CARRIANNE says:

      WHERE INDEED?

      STARK RAVING FUNDAMENTALIST MANIACS AND WE ARE JUST ACTING LIKE COWARDS.

      SICKENING.

      THEY HAVE PLAYED OUR GOVERNMENT FOR FOOLS.

      WHO AUTHORIZED THIS MAN’S FIRING?

      MAYBE OBAMA OR BLOOMBERG OR FARRAKAHN….

    2. fern says:

      Had he carried a Koran changed his name to Yusuf, carried a ready to burn American flag he might have been alive today.

  20. kim says:

    THIS IS AMERICA AND THIS MAN COMMITTED NO CRIME.
    WHERE IS EVERYONE TO SPEAK ABOUT HIS RIGHTS BEING VIOLATED?
    HE IS BEING USED AS A SCAPEGOAT TO PACIFY THESE RAVING MANIACS.

    WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA???

    I HOPE HE SUES THEIR HEADS OFF!

  21. clark says:

    These people have hated us for hundreds of years…For that Jerk Rauf to say that any actions we take will cause us harm in the muslim world is just a disengenuous threat…nothing we do or DONT DO will cause them to act any differently towards us or our troops trying to save their miserable lives

    1. fern says:

      In a way Rauf is right, if the mosque is built there, America will be the laughing stock in the Muslim world, if it’s not built America will be a racist country.

  22. Anna Dean says:

    The only difference here is, that Islam is not a religion, but a fscist ideology, like Marxism, Their aim is world domination. BEWARE, read the koran. Listen to GEERT WiLDERS, WATCH FITNA VIDEO.go to truth tube and look up Sharia Law. And watch the video of the Muslims having a sitting on the white house front lawn. Have a look at the bullies trying it silence everybody. Islam is not to be trusted, they are only appear to be peaceful, until they get to about 5-6% of population, then the trouble starts, like England and France. Don’t be fooled, wake up, Nothing to do with discrimination or racist views, everything to do, with selfpreservation. Protect your freedom and culture. Wake up!!

    1. SAM I AM says:

      THANK YOU ANNA DEAN.

      WAKE UP PEOPLE.

      WE COWERING AND CATERING TO THEM NOW….WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?

      THIS MAN SHOULD NOT PAY WITH HIS JOB- HE SHOULD NOT PAY AT ALL?

      ARE WE LIVING IN IRAN??????

  23. Ted Nugent says:

    wasn’t it all about avoiding FURTHER RETALIATION from U.S.-based terror mongers who would do so “in the name of ‘those who burned the Koran'”?

    these are triggerhappy crazy times

    brains before self-righteousness, people

  24. K.A.ALIYU says:

    such action is an irresponsible act,and very disappointing if a socalled civilised country like America will watch an irresponsible idiot destroying a holy book of revealed religion ISLAM.May ALLAH give the same treatment with the way he destroyed the holy book AMIN

  25. proud agnostic says:

    ZAPHOD BEEBLBROX ,YOU ARE A RACIST CREEP!

  26. ahmhmad says:

    At one time we were afraid of communism.Now we have to be more afraid of islam

  27. sarah says:

    He will regret of what he did,as they say burning a koran or even not caring it properly is bad luck!may god forgive him for his actions and bring peace upon him..amen!

  28. jane says:

    Please use the correct spelling for “Quran”….

    1. BillAmerican says:

      Quran, Koran — makes no difference. It will burn the same. You see, this is what we are talking about. it is just a book.

      1. fern says:

        @Bill
        And if I could invest in a factory making American flags I would sell them to the Muslim countries, they would be made in America and employ quite a few people.

  29. AHMHMAD says:

    BAN ISLAM111

  30. peter peterson says:

    and you should be deported

  31. Michael says:

    Who cares about the Koran. It’s a meaningless book to non-Muslims. And no, Allah will not strike me down with lighting because there is no Allah.

  32. Zaphod Beeblebrox says:

    This guy is an example of a great new political force in America: WHITEY RIGHTIES

  33. ahmhmad says:

    Fire NJ Govt. not Mr.Fenton for doing this

    1. FGGH says:

      WOW, IT’S GREAT YOU HAVE THAT OPINION AND YOU HAVE MUSLIM NAME. WOW. I REALLY BELIEVE YOU ARE MUSLIM, YES.

  34. BillAmerican says:

    The Koran is just another book as is the Bible. It is the words which are important, not the paper. The constitution just us Americans the right to be politically incorrect and the right to burn books if we feel the need. The Koran is just like any other combustible material.

    BTW copies of the constitution are on-line, burn away if you feel the need. After all, it’s your American right! Welcome to American, Land of the Free. We understand this is a new concept for most of you.

    1. fern says:

      I can’t afford to burn my monitor each time I see the Koran on line and I have better use for my money than to spend it on a Koran or bible just to burn it.
      Nobody should should destroy the written word without punishment. Let those who destroyed a newspaper come forward and be punished.

  35. proud agnostic says:

    He should be given a parade down 5th. ave., and a gift certificate t Peter Lugers.

    1. FFGG says:

      i agree! He’s a real American hero. He shows us the best of what America has become. We should celebrate who we have become: a gang of book-burning rightwingers.

  36. njbill says:

    BTW, I suspect the people claiming to be muslim and saying stone him and such are not Moslems, but trolls

  37. George Scott says:

    Would the same punishment befit this individual if he were urinating on a train platform ? Are not they both similar ???

  38. jtorres says:

    I’m with Mark E. I think what he did was disgusting and I don’t condone it but I don’t think NJ Transit has legal standing to fire him. He did off-duty, didn’t he? As an American citizen, he is free to express his beliefs. That’s what protects organizations like churches, the NAACP and the KKK. I don’t think anything you believe (or don’t) should play into your employment

  39. Jon X Jones says:

    At first, I thought burning the Koran was wrong, but everyone in the world burns an American flag whenever they don’t like something we do. That we’re a nation of immigrants, the flag is the symbol of the US and all we stand for. Burning a Koran sends the same message back to them.

  40. Mark E says:

    I don’t believe desecrating religious symbols of any religion is right. All the major religions in their writings teach peace, it’s the people that read and interpret them who create the foulness.

    Yes, he had the freedom to do what he did, but I don’t agree with it, nor do i agree with the response of NJ Transit OR the negative comments here like such barbaric statements suggesting Stoning.

    This is the 21st Century not the 1st Century, lets all try to evolve and do what our respective religions truly espouse and seek peace.

    Just my humble opinion.

  41. Mike says:

    extremely disgusting and disrespectful of what this individual displayed when burning a holy book of a certain faith and religion. Many people of all faiths and religions ride the PA transit system everyday, and you want this individual to continue to work for them. Good luck with your lawsuit.

    1. fern says:

      Ride a cab if you’re not satisfied with the service.
      A book is a book nothing more nothing less.
      Since men were created after God’s image we’re all Gods.

  42. Dan Te says:

    And yet, it’s ok for a mu-slime here to burn the American Flag.

    Typical appeasement libturds at work. They never learn from that Chamerlain idiocy – just keep repeating it.

  43. morris wise says:

    This story should continue to be top news. It shows what can happen to an American citizen when they break no law, but do not follow what is politically correct. His support will come from conservative Republicans, but they are a dying breed without much power.

  44. David says:

    Derek Fenton, as an American, has the Constitutional right all Americans have to religious freedom and the right to protest. He should file a lawsuit against the NJ Transit ASAP!

  45. z z zodiac says:

    Good thing he did it in the US-burning a holy book in some countries would have you killed. Unless ,of course, that book iss a bible.

    1. Samira A says:

      Actually you get equal punishment for disrespecting a bible or torah as you would if you disrespected the Quran in a Muslim country. If you were anything but ignorant you would know Muslims believe in all 3 books.

      IGNORANCE!

      1. Anthony says:

        @Samira A

        The only one suffering from ignorance is you:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_religion_in_Saudi_Arabia

      2. Pilar says:

        You are absolutely correct. Muslims also believe in Jesus as a Messenger of God. Amen

      3. ZAHA says:

        @Anthony

        I could write Rubbish in Wikipaedia and u still would believe in everything they say. Clearly you are uneducated and the ignorant one!

        Linking information from the Wikipaedia What an IDIOT you are.

      4. fern says:

        How about tolerance?

  46. sam says:

    I am a Sri lankan. A Sri lankan woman who went to an Islamic country was tortured by hammering nails into her. Sharia law says that she is a non muslim, there is no punishement to the torturer.

    These uncivilized people are a menace to any society. But thanks to liberals (I used to be one) they are now ruling our society by fear.

    1. samer says:

      What are you talking about? Do you wanna say that Islam support such acts and behaviors. If yes I strongly advise you to read the meaning of Quran. What you are trying to say is a complete distortion of reality. Criminal people are not limited to any religion. A religion with 1.5 billion follower can’t have such sick believes. It obvious that you misunderstand the concept of civilization by labeling the 1.5 billion Muslims as UNCIVILIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. fern says:

        You’re right a couple of hundreds may be civilized.

      2. samer says:

        @ Fern
        I won’t get down to your level and have a rubbish talk with you.

  47. Rodney says:

    What lopsided treatment: I cannot imagine a Muslim being sacked for habitually despising all Christian symbols and the Bible. If THAT happened there would be liberal screaming all over: ‘Racism’, ‘Religious bigotry”, etc. But those peaceful protesters did not break ANY law by expressing their disagreement with the teaching of Koran. They did not chop off anyone’s head, nor fly a plane full of people into a public structure in the name of their religion. They just tore pages from a book they consider a dangerous manual for terrorists.

    1. nina flora says:

      agreed

    2. tired of it all says:

      I agree entirely! They can burn our flag and chant “Death to America” all day long and we are not allowed to respond? This man who burned the pages of the Koran has a right to say and do what he wants on his own time. NJ Transit – if you find your employees in uniform, on the job, burning books, call me. I’ll be the first to agree they need to go. Until then, his personal life is none of his employer’s business.

      1. Walid says:

        We are not allowed to disrespect let alone burn the Bible or Torah because even though we do not follow it there is alot of truth in it as they are considered people of the book, the problem with the vast majority of Americans is that they are very ignorant they are fueled by their hatred. So much of the Qurans teaching is too respect your parents, take care of the orphans and alway spend your money towards the poor. Do these idiots have any clue what they are burning???

    3. crusader says:

      Your freking quran is just a book, it’s not like it is the printed breath of your fake prophet,muhammad.

    4. StormsNYC says:

      Rodney is stupid

  48. Phil says:

    Judgement belong to God.

  49. Diaa says:

    Let us all learn from the good people of America how to respect others and understand the word Liberty.

    1. Zaphod Beeblebrox says:

      America doesn’t seem to be on the road to teaching anyone anything except how to discredit yourself in the world to other countries. That, and torture.

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