Dear residents and friends of Dearborn,
This weekend we will again be visited by people who want to use our community for their own ends. This time their target will be the Arab International Festival which has been part of our community for almost two decades. These visitors are not interested in the Festival or learning about and celebrating Arab culture. They are coming here to promote the concept that Islam is a false faith and that Muslims by teaching and nature are violent.
We know that there is no substance to their message – their goal is to promote fear and hatred in others. More than a month ago in Dearborn, faith leaders of all religions from all over Metropolitan Detroit rejected their message by standing together arm in arm and proclaiming that Islam is a legitimate faith and Muslims are an important part of our greater faith community.
Nowhere was the dishonesty of those using Dearborn to attack Islam more clear than when the Rev. Terry Jones stood on the steps of our City Hall and recited the Pledge of Allegiance over and over as if we in Dearborn had never heard it. In his ignorance he failed to recognize that we recite the Pledge of Allegiance at events all over our city no matter who is the sponsor because we always stand together as Americans.
I sincerely ask everyone that cares about our city to wish these people peace and God’s forgiveness, and then ignore them and their empty words. Their goal is to bait and anger us so that they can then misrepresent who we are in order to serve their personal agenda. Debating them and confronting them at this event or in our city can produce no positive result for us. We know we are people of peace but we are also people. All humans take exception to those who wrongly accuse us or suggest that our deepest beliefs are false and evil. It is human to become angry but it is divine to forgive. As all of our religions teach us we must rise above our human instincts and follow God’s instructions to be agents of peace and forgiveness. We must also encourage others to do the same.
We must be true to our collective goals of promoting a safe and positive environment for all of our residents and guests to be successful and enjoy their lives. We are a positive example of the ideals and goals of America to be a place of opportunity for everyone and a nation that respects everyone’s rights to their own beliefs. If we will stand for peace and tolerance, we will stand for America and freedom.
John O’Reilly Jr.
Mayor of Dearborn