UPDATE: On June 17th, BAMN and Dearborn community members stopped Terry Jones from fulfilling his vow to march from the Dearborn City Hall to the Arab International Festival to spread his message of Islamophobia and racism. That victory inspired many young Arabs attending the Festival to confront the anti-Arab, anti-Islamic bigots who rallied in the “free-speech zone” at the Festival later that evening, causing the racists to cut their rally short.
ALL OUT to Protect and Keep Safe the Mosque and the People who Worship at it
RALLY, Friday, June 17, 12:00 noonGather in front of Dearborn City Hall
- Defend Freedom of Religion for All
- Stop Immigrant-Bashing and the Scapegoating of America’s Arab, Latina/o, Asian, Islamic and other Immigrant Communities
- No More Raids & Deportations
- Full Rights for All Immigrants
- Arab, Muslim, Black, Latina/o, Asian & White – We Are All Dearborn, Detroit and its Surrounding Areas
- Build the New Youth-led, Independent, Mass Civil Rights Movement
- Realize Dr. King’s Vision for America in Metro-Detroit
Our new movement took an important step forward on April 22 when we stopped the racist self-styled “pastor,” Terry Jones, from burning the Qur’an in front of the Islamic Center of America, the largest mosque in the country. Students, youth and community members from Dearborn, Detroit and the surrounding area came out to the courthouse, the mosque, and the public library and showed our unity and determination to defend the Muslim and Arab community from this racist attack.
On Friday, April 29, Jones, who burned a Qur’an on March 20 in Gainesville, Florida, returned for an anti-Islamic protest in front of City Hall in Dearborn, Michigan, the home of the largest Arab community in America. Jones has recruited local neo-Nazi and other racist thugs to join his effort to burn the Qur’an and attack the Muslim and Arab community. At Jones’s rally, it became all the more clear that he intends to return to Dearborn and to build an organization here to harass and terrorize the Muslim and Arab community.
A thousand people from Dearborn, Detroit and the surrounding area turned out to express their anger and opposition to Jones’s effort to terrorize our community.While we succeeded in stopping Jones and his gaggle of racist thugs from rallying in front of the Islamic Center and demonstrated our opposition in front of City Hall, we did not do enough to prevent him from returning.Jones has announced his plan to return to Dearborn on June 17, the first day of the Arab International Festival. He plans to hold another rally in front of City Hall at 1:00pm and then march to the festival.
The Arab International Festival is a local tradition that has grown to become a hallmark of the diversity of American society. By his planned presence at the Festival and his continued campaign of racist harassment in Dearborn, Jones is attacking two of the most important democratic values of American society: equality and freedom of religion. We must stop him.Freedom of religion is one of the most basic and longstanding individual and civil rights in America, and the premise of equality is that every individual in American society has the right to dignity and freedom from intimidation and harassment for who they are and what they believe.
If we allow these rights to be taken away from America’s Muslim community, then everyone is in danger of losing these precious rights.Dearborn is America’s largest and most important Arab center. If we fail to mobilize and defend the right of our Muslim community members to religious freedom and celebration of Arab and Islamic culture, we will embolden every far-right-wing political organization to attack our mosques and churches, our schools and our community.
We will expose smaller Arab and Muslim communities to attack. The anti-immigrant racist bigots, who already feel plenty strong in this area, will feel invigorated to continue their gross, racist attacks against all of Michigan’s minority and immigrant communities.If we mobilize our community to stand up and march on Friday June 17, and we turn out in the thousands, Jones will not dare to even get out of his car. He will flee Dearborn in defeat.
On the other hand, if we accede to Jones, or “ignore him,” we will hand him a victory that we can easily deny him. Our aim must be to give Jones a rousing defeat in order to assure that Jones and other racists know that they can never come back to Dearborn.We have the right to organize community self-defense to protect our basic right to religious freedom, respect and dignity. We know from our experience with the police, the ICE and the courts, that we cannot rely for protection on the governmental bodies that have singled out our communities for harassment and discrimination.
If we listen to those who are urging us to stay home or go to a rally somewhere other than City Hall, we will give away the rights that millions of people in the Arab world are fighting and dying to attain. We cannot take democratic freedoms for granted. They only exist if those who have them fight to defend them against anyone trying to take them back.In the next few years, America will become a majority-minority nation. We have the right and the duty to stand up, to stand strong, and to stand together for this new America to be a diverse, multicultural, integrated, equal society.
We should never be ashamed of who we are. If we make ourselves look weak when we are strong, we simply let the racists and religious bigots define the character of our society and its future. We call on all those who oppose racism and religious bigotry, and who cherish fundamental democratic rights to gather at Dearborn City Hall at 12:00 noon on June 17 to ensure that Jones and his followers are not allowed to harass or intimidate Muslims in Dearborn.
Stay updated on BAMN’s work on Immigrant Rights: