Micha J. Stone at The Examiner:
Last Friday the annual Dearborn Arab International Festival in Dearborn Michigan became the sight of a mini holy war pitting Christian against Muslim. Accusations are being made that Dearborn police have been enforcing Sharia law after the arrest of four Christian evangelists, and the confiscation of their cameras.
Thompson alludes to a video made by the group, Acts 17 Apologetics, that went viral last year after recording security at the Arab festival “ruffing up” the Christian missionaries.
Are the Dearborn Police guilty of defending Islam against the Constitution, of bringing Sharia to Michigan? Time will tell.
One thing is certain: Christians and Muslims are equally deluded, both endorse superstitious non-sense. But this is America. It is wrong for Police to confiscate cameras and interrupt our constitutionally protected right to free speech, regardless of who that speech may offend.
John Hinderaker at Powerline:
Under Sharia law, it is forbidden to proselytize to Muslims, and no Muslim can leave the faith. Dearborn, Michigan, is home to a substantial Muslim population, and there is strong evidence that local authorities now enforce sharia in preference to the Constitution of the United States. Thus this Associated Press story about the arrest of four Christian missionaries that took place on Friday:
Police in the heavily Arab Detroit suburb of Dearborn say they arrested four Christian missionaries for disorderly conduct at an Arab cultural festival.
Police Chief Ron Haddad says his department made the arrests Friday. The four are free on bond.
Here is video of the arrest. The “disorderly conduct” consisted of handing out copies of the Gospel of John outside the festival. Note the police demand that one of the group stop filming the arrest:
Pamela Geller at Human Events:
On Saturday, I got this message from David Wood of Acts 17: “Muslims threatened to kill Nabeel [Qureshi, an ex-Muslim and David’s colleague] and me if we showed up again at Arab Fest in Dearborn, so we went there yesterday. They didn’t kill us. Instead, police arrested us and we got to spend a night in jail (along with two others who were video recording us).”
Wondering if they were arrested for passing out fliers in defiance of the ban, I asked David about the ban. He answered, “Yes, we’re banned from handing out literature, but we didn’t do that. We followed the rules, and still got thrown in jail. They flat out lied about us. We can prove they lied with the video footage (just like last year), but the police took our cameras and won’t let us have the footage. There’s major oppression of anyone who criticizes Islam.”
Last year, Nabeel, David and friends went to the Arab Festival and filmed a video that went viral. It is amazing to see in that video what happened in America. It was free speech under siege.
Nabeel and David were harassed and intimidated, aided and abetted by law enforcement. Said David and Nabeel: “The conclusion of this video is a mob of festival security attacking our cameras, pushing us back, kicking our legs, and lying to the police. We ask you, is it a coincidence that the city with the highest percentage of Muslims in the United States is the city where Christianity is not allowed to be represented (let alone preached) on a public sidewalk?”
The video was shocking because it exposed the lack of freedoms for non-Muslims in America where Islam is involved. Muslims are given special rights, treated as a special class that gets special treatment.
mailloux at Redstate:
I had the great pleasure of seeing Pope John Paul II in 1993 during the World Youth Day events held in Denver, Colorado. I have fond memories of that time, for it was a very moving and influential experience.
But, it was also punctuated by debate. On many street corners anti-Catholic groups were handing out literature to the throngs of Catholic pilgrims who were making their way from event to event. The anti-Catholic groups were actively proselytizing by engaging World Youth Day participants in conversations both civil and not so civil.
No one in authority stopped the non-Catholic groups from their efforts to proselytize the Catholic pilgrims (many of which were high school and college age). And, speaking as a Catholic who was at the event, I’m glad for that. I took the literature, read it, and engaged in conversations. For goodness sake, they were handing me a pamphlet, not pointing a gun at me. They told me I was going to hell by virtue of being Catholic. I disagreed and stated my case as to why. There was freedom here. There were spirited conversations. There were challenges and questions proposed, some fair and some patently unfair. You could choose to engage in debate or you could choose not to. There was no, as far as I could tell, disorderly conduct. We, both the Catholics and the anti-Catholics, were Americans exercising our rights to free expression and freedom of religion.
Fast forward now to 2010, to Dearborn, Michigan, where an Arab Cultural Festival was recently held … a group of 3 Christians stood outside of the festival grounds and peacefully handed out the Gospel of John presented in both English and Arabic. They did not harass. They did not throw about epithets. They simply handed out a book for anyone willing to take one.
Via Powerline, so insane is this that I’m paranoid there’s a key detail missing somewhere that might explain the whole thing. Could the Christians have been trespassing on private property, maybe? Sure doesn’t look like it, and in any case, they weren’t arrested for trespassing. They were arrested for “disorderly conduct,” which apparently now extends to the offense of offering religious literature to someone who might not want it.
If this is what it looks like, replete with cops confiscating video cameras to keep what happened off the record, it’s one of the most ridiculous First Amendment violations you’ll ever see.
Here’s the Thomas More Center’s press release, which notes that there was trouble at last year’s Dearborn Arab festival too. Evidently the cops were worried that the presence of Christian lit at a mostly Muslim event might produce some “excitement,” so they solved the problem by punishing the party that tried to peacefully exercise its rights. Note to the defendants: Don’t forget to ask for damages. A lot of damages.