Faithandthelaw's Blog

The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

Michigan Arab Festival Held To Higher Reverence Than First Amendment?

Posted by faithandthelaw on June 30, 2010

 

The arrests of four Christians at the Dearborn Arab International Festival by police officers is being called by some, an enforcement of Shariah law – the radical Islamic legal system.

On June 18, four Christian missionaries who never handed out any literature or engaged in unwanted conversation, were arrested for “disorderly conduct,” according to Police Chief Ron Haddad.

The mere presence of the Christians allegedly caused several Muslims to heckle and cause a scene, including shouting expletives and others, “Allahu akbar!”

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, the organization representing the four Christians said that “Contrary to the comments made by Police Chief Ron Haddad, our Constitution does not allow police to ban the right of free speech just because there are some hecklers.  Not all police officers approve of the way their department treated these Christians.”

Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad said they made four arrests for “disorderly conduct,” because they caused “a stir.”

On June 19, the missionaries attempted to peacefully distribute copies of the Gospel of John outside the entrance to the Arab festival.  Within three minutes, the Christians were surrounded by eight Dearborn police officers and ordered to cease and desist.  They were all immediately arrested and their video cameras seized which were recording the events surrounding their arrests.

Negeen Mayel, Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, Paul Rezkalla, and David Wood were arrested on charges of Breach of Peace.  Mayel, an eighteen year old female, whose parents emigrated from Afghanistan and a recent convert from Islam to Christianity, was approximately 100 feet away and quietly videotaping a discussion with some Muslims when her camera was seized.  She was also charged with failure to obey a police officer’s orders.

These Christian missionaries were exercising their Constitutional rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion, but apparently the Constitution carries little weight in Dearborn, where the Muslim population seems to dominate the political apparatus,” said Thompson. “It’s apparent that these arrests were a retaliatory action over the embarrassing video of the strong arm tactics used last year by Festival Security Guards.  This time, the first thing police officers did before making the arrests was to confiscate the video cameras in order to prevent a recording of what was actually happening.”

During the 2009 Dearborn Arab International Festival, the group of four were arrested by police after they were falsely accused by attendees and festival security for disorderly conduct.

Dearborn Police Department has apparently made it a policy to prohibit Christians from attempting to speak freely or distribute any information within “five blocks” of the Muslim festival.

In an unrelated case, on June 17, a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order, allowing Pastor George Saieg, a Sudanese Christian and Founder of the Arabic Christian Perspective, to discuss his Christian faith and distribute religious literature to Muslims attending the same Arab Festival held in Dearborn.  The court concluded that “The loss of a First Amendment right, ‘for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury,” citing Elrod v. Burns.

The Sixth Circuit’s ruling followed a June 7, 2010, decision in George Saieg v. City of Dearborn by federal District Court Judge Paul D. Borman that sustained the City of Dearborn’s policy of prohibiting Pastor Saieg from distributing his religious material “near” the festival.

In May, Haddad, who is the city’s first Arab American police chief,  was appointed by the Obama administration to serve on the Homeland Security Advisory Council, which “provides advice and recommendations on homeland security” to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

“Our job is to identify what type of training would suit front line law enforcement, officers, and to improve their ability to work more effectively with community members to mitigate threats or actual crime,” said Haddad .

““We’re engaging the [Dearborn] community in a way that’s never been done before,” Haddad said.  “There’s no cookie-cutter model for something like this,” he said. “It needs to be broad enough to work for the entire country.”

Although some might think Sharia law in America is a far stretch, nonetheless, American Muslims have not hid there agenda to replace the Constitution with the Qur’an – Sharia (Arabic for “way” or “path”) law.

In 1998, Omar M. Ahmad, founder of Council of American-Islamic Relations, said Sharia law should be the American form of government.

“Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant” said Ahmad. “The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.”

Under Sharia law, trying to convert or conversion by Muslims to other faiths is forbidden and converts are considered apostates, yet non-Muslims are allowed to convert into Islam.  Some Muslim clerics equate this apostasy to treason, a crime punishable by death.  Muslims say that legal precedent for this dates back to the seventh century when their Prophet Mohammed ordered a Muslim man to death who joined the enemies of Islam.

Early this month, Congress listened to testimonies about the recent deportation of  50 U.S. Christians from Morocco after they were accused of breaking a Moroccan penal code that prohibits individuals from trying to convert Muslims.

The U.S. State Department says of Morocco: “Islam is the official state religion, and the King is ‘Commander of the Faithful and the Supreme Representative of the Muslim Community’ with the responsibility of ensuring ‘respect for Islam.’”  The CIA World Factbook reports that Morocco is 98.7% Muslim, 1.1% Christian and 0.2% Jewish.

Courtesy of http://www.christianlawjournal.com/featured-articles/michigan-arab-festival-held-to-higher-reverence-than-first-amendment/

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