Members of The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary stage a protest Friday outside the 19th District Court Thursday in response to Florida Pastor Terry Jones’ plans to hold a demonstration outside the Islamic Center of America.
By DANIEL HERATY
DEARBORN — Several counterprotests were planned for Friday in response to Florida Pastor Terry Jones’ scheduled appearance in the city, and a co-protest also was canceled.
Dearborn attorney Majed Moughni was organizing a Stop the Hate rally at the Islamic Center of America, 19500 Ford Road, but moved his event after being denied permission by the city, which had created a number of “free speech zones,” including the steps of City Hall, to accommodate counterprotesters.
“We’ve been told that he’s armed,” Moughni said of Jones. “We’re not going to be confronting him.”
Moughni said a complaint filed April 15 by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy in 19th District Court (see related story) urging Jones not to speak was a violation of Jones’ free speech.
“We think the prosecutor shot herself in the foot,” he said. “He now looks like the victim.”
Arab-American News publisher Osama Siblani was organizing another counter rally open to all who “stand against hate.”
“On this holy day for Christians, we want to show the world that Muslims are productive, peace-loving citizens of this country living in harmony with all our country living in harmony with all our neighbors,” he said in a statement. “Just as Terry Jones has the right to speak his mind, we have the right and the responsibility to say his beliefs and comments about Islam, Muslims and Dearborn are very wrong.”
When Jones arrived in Dearborn for a peace bond hearing Thursday, he was met by a group of protesters who held signs and shouted at him as he entered the courthouse.
One group, from the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, passed out fliers outside the courthouse asking community members to ensure that Jones is “defeated.”
“Our aim must be to give Jones a rousing defeat in order to assure that Jones and other racists know that they can never come back to Dearborn,” the flier read.
During the hearing, a demonstration was taking place at the Islamic Center, where members of Interfaith Leadership Council of Metro Detroit joined arms in a collective counterdemonstration.
The Order of the Dragon, a Michigan-based group originally slated to demonstrate concurrent with Jones’ event, opted out April 16 and announced April 18 that it had withdrawn its application to participate.
The announcement came after a meeting between order leader Frank Fiorello, Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. and members of an interfaith group, Dearborn Area Ministries Association, at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center. Fiorello said he wanted to meet with DAMA so as not to offend Christians or Muslims on Good Friday.
He did not respond to an email request seeking comment for this story. According to published reports, however, he and his group learned that the idea of Dearborn being under Shariah law was a myth started online.
Fiorello said his group’s protest was meant to be a response to a pro-Shariah rally that was to be held in Washington, D.C., on the same day. That protest also was canceled.
“The Order of the Dragon originally posted the Facebook notice of our intent to have a peaceful protest of what we believed is a ‘Constitutional concern,’” Fiorello said. “The Order of the Dragon was the first organization to submit a petition to hold a demonstration in front of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn.”
Police Chief Ronald Haddad in a statment called Fiorello “honest” and “reasonable.”
“I am grateful that he was willing to withdraw his permit application after weighing its impact on the Dearborn community,” Haddad said.
Fiorello said his group has no ties to Jones or his church, the Dove World Outreach Center, and disagrees with Jones’ methods.