Concerns Over First Amendment and Religious Tolerance Sparked by Letter Sent to Tucson Newspaper

September 19, 2004

Source: Yahoo News

Wire Service: AP

On September 19, 2004 the Associated Press reported that, "the Dec. 2 letter in the 'Tucson Citizen' made a suggestion on how to end 'the horror' of American soldiers being killed in Iraq (news - web sites): Go to the nearest mosque and kill five Muslims. The letter to the editor was printed over nine months ago but its effect is still reverberating through Arizona. In response, fearful Muslims kept their children home from religious school. The Gannett Co. newspaper received numerous protest letters from readers, issued an apology and sent staff members to meet with members of a local mosque. Then the controversy moved to the courts. Two men on Jan. 13 filed a class-action lawsuit against the newspaper on behalf of Islamic-Americans, and the Arizona Supreme Court is being asked to decide whether to overturn a trial judge's ruling allowing the newspaper to be sued for alleged distress caused by what it printed. The newspaper argues that its First Amendment rights protect it from such lawsuits, but the plaintiffs contend that the newspaper, by choosing to publish the letter, crossed the line."