By BOB OLIVER
DEARBORN — The 2013 Arab International Festival may be moving this year, but that is not keeping Terry Jones away. Jones, the controversial Christian pastor for the group Stand Up America, plans to travel from Gainesville, Fla., to attend the annual festival.
Jones announced on his website that he was planning to attend this year’s event, which is slated to be held at Ford Woods Park June 14 to 16. He also said he plans to bring Pastor Warren Sapp, Ruben Israel of Bible Believers, David Grisham of Repent Amarillo and Rabbi Nachum Shifren of the California Security Council with him.
He also will be coming with other members of Stand Up America!, a Christian non-profit organization that he founded and presides over.
The announcement came days before the city of Dearborn agreed to settle litigation with three Christian missionaries who had been arrested at the 2010 AIF for disturbing the peace. Mayor John O’Reilly recently said that litigation played a role in the city’s decision to move the AIF from its home of the last several years — Warren Avenue between Schaefer and Wyoming — to the enclosed, city-owned Ford Woods Park.
Jones and Sapp were most recently in Dearborn last October when they held a protest in front of Edsel Ford High School. The protest was titled “Stand Up, Walk Out” and called for students at the school to walk out of the building in response to what Jones called “aggressive bullying by gangs of Muslim youths.”
Jones has also posted messages on his the Stand Up America! website calling for a banning of Muslim immigrants into the United States and an ending of Sharia, the moral code and religious law of Islam.
Israel was in Dearborn last June for the Arab International Festival with other members of the Bible Believers group. Members carried signs with messages such as “proud to be an infidel” around the festival. They also carried a pike with a pig’s head mounted on top of it. Pigs are considered unclean in Islam.
Confrontations between the Believers and festival attendees resulted in foreign objects being hurled at the missionaries. Video footage of the abuse was posted on the Internet and became a viral video. O’Reilly said that it presented the rest of the world with “an image of Dearborn that we know isn’t true.”
Litigation was also brought up after the festival as the Believers filed a lawsuit against Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon and two of his deputy sheriffs for failing to protect them during the festival.
The Wayne County Sheriff’s Department ran security at the AIF in 2011 and 2012.
Recent activity on Jones’ website has also sparked controversy. He is planning on marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by burning 2,998 Korans in Tampa, one book for each person who died because of the terrorist attacks.
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected])