Mayor Michael Bloomberg is defending the right of a Florida church to burn copies of the Koran on September 11. He called the decision by Pastor Terry Jones and the Dove World Outreach Center "distasteful," but said they had a right to do it.
"In a strange way, I'm here to defend his right to do that," Bloomberg said. "I happen to think that it is distasteful. I don't think he would like it if somebody burnt a book in his religion he thinks is holy."
The mayor made his commends after an event updating about 200 reporters from around the world on the progress at the World Trade Center site.
"The First Amendment protects everybody," he said. "And you can't say we're going to apply the First Amendment to only those cases where we are in agreement."
He also says both sides in the debate over an Islamic cultural center and mosque two blocks away have a right to demonstrate this Saturday. Bloomberg said the NYPD and the Port Authority will be prepared to handle a demonstration.