The man who burned a Koran this past weekend at the protest of the proposed Islamic community center and mosque has been fired from his job. Derek Fenton was terminated from his NJTransit job on Monday after pictures of him "Mapplethorping the Quran" were published in newspapers all over the country. "Mr. Fenton's public actions violated New Jersey Transit's code of ethics," a NJTransit statement said.
Fenton, 39, of Bloomingdale, N.J., worked for NJTransit for 11 years as a conductor and as an assistant train-consist coordinator, ensuring there are enough train cars positioned to be put into service. On Saturday, the father of two told reporters he was exercising his right to protest by burning the Koran. Police who questioned him Saturday told the Daily News, "He said, 'This is America,' and he wanted to stand up for it, in a Tea Party kind of way." He was released without charges, but "looked nervous, like he was starting to think it wasn't such a good idea." According to NJTransit, he should have been: "NJ Transit concluded that Mr. Fenton violated his trust as a state employee and therefore [he] was dismissed."
And even though Salman Rushdie wouldn't approve, Felton's NJ neighbors stood beside him: "Good for him for burning the Koran. Everybody's entitled to their opinion ... by firing him, they're sending a message that there's no freedom of speech. They're completely wrong for doing this," said neighbor Jacqui Marquez, 40.