A settlement was reached in the case of a 62-year-old Willmar man who put a pig’s foot on a vendor table staffed by Muslims at a farmers market in Willmar last summer. Pigs are considered to be unclean by followers of Islam.
Joseph Fernkes could have received jail time but will instead pay $458 in fines and fees for a conviction of disorderly conduct.
Fernkes’ Attorney John Mack said, “The judge gave about a ten minute speech about, ‘Can’t we all get along?’ Even the judge acknowledged had he gone before him without throwing the pig’s foot and had said something like, ‘Down with the Prophet,’ he would have been within his rights.”
Mack added that he was willing to take this case all the way to the Supreme Court, however, a prolonged court case would have been expensive and sometimes the best interest of the client needs to be placed ahead of the interest of the law.
“I mean, there are to sides to this,” he said, “On the one hand, there is the politically correct notion that immigrants should have rights which should be respected by other people. On the other hand, there is the issue of whether or not people have a reasonable right to protest against some of the things that that they think that the immigrants are doing which are problematical.”
The case drew the attention of media around the world and, at one point, the Council on American-Islamic Relations was calling for Fernkes to be charged with a hate crime.