Four Christians were arrested and thrown out of a public Arab festival in Michigan for doing nothing more than engaging in peaceful dialogue and videotaping the event.
Shouts and cheers of “Allahu akbar!” we were all being led away from the festival in handcuffs.
In what can only be described as police enforcement of Sharia law at the annual Dearborn Arab International Festival, last Friday night Dearborn Police Officers arrested four Christian missionaries and illegally confiscated their video cameras which were recording the events surrounding their arrests. The Thomas More Law Center, a public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, today announced it is representing all of the Christian missionaries.
Arrested on charges of Breach of the Peace are: Negeen Mayel, Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, Paul Rezkalla, and David Wood. Mayel, an eighteen year old female, whose parents emigrated from Afghanistan and a recent convert from Islam to Christianity, was also charged with failure to obey a police officer’s orders. She was approximately 100 feet away and videotaping a discussion with some Muslims when her camera was seized.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commented, “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. 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.
Qureshi and Mayel are former Muslims who are now Christians. Mayel’s parents emigrated from Afghanistan. Wood is a former atheist. All are from a Christian group called Acts 17 Apologetics. In the following video after the arrest, Qureshi said his group took “extra precautions” to prevent disruptions by not handing out pamphlets and to speak only to people “who first approached us”:
Qureshi said people at the festival recognized his group from its visit in 2009. Last year, the Acts 17 Apologetics team was escorted from the grounds while being allegedly assaulted by security personnel and several attendees.
Thompson continued, “Contrary to the comments made by Police Chief Ron Haddad, (HADAD? Is that a Muslim name?) 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.”
Robert Muise, Senior Trial Counsel with the Law Center in charge of the case, yesterday faxed a letter to Chief Haddad demanding that the three video cameras and tapes illegally seized from the missionaries be immediately returned. No hating, no disturbing, no harassing… It remains only to be concluded that we were arrested simply for being Christian Preachers at the Arab Festival in Dearborn.
One witness named Steven Atkins, a resident of Toronto, Canada, said, “I never thought I would see this in America.” Atkins added, “It’s becoming more restrictive here than in Canada.”
“When Dr. Qureshi was arrested I heard people clapping and applauding, and some said ‘Allahu akbar,'” he said. “It was an intense discussion, but it was not unruly. … There was no threat of violence.” ANSWERING MUSLIMS