By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Anti-Muslim protesters and open carry advocates ascended on the city Oct. 10 for a Global Rally for Humanity against Islam and immigration in Michigan and the country.
About 20 other cities across the country held similar rallies on the same day as Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan’s “Justice for Else” rally in Washington, D.C., marking the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March.
The Dearborn rally drew about 12 anti-Muslim protesters outside Henry Ford Centennial Library.
The initial plan for the rally group to hold the protest at the Islamic Center of America fell through after it failed to get the proper permits from the city.
Protesters stood near the library fountain surrounded by a metal fence, refusing to comment beyond the signs they held.
The protesters held signs reading “Stop Islamization of America,” “No more refugees” and “ Noooo radical Islam” while openly carrying guns.
Outnumbering the protesters were counter-protesters who held signs in support of Islam and unity.
Their signs read “No to anti-Islam bigots” while chanting “Stop terrorizing Muslims at home and abroad,” “Liberty is for everyone,” “Leave religion out of it” and “Muslims deserve freedom.”
Moe Khatib of Dearborn held a sign reading “Unity Yes! Racism No!” while standing along Michigan Avenue.
“I came out to support Muslims, unity and all races in our country,” Khatib said. “Protests like this are unnecessary because we all helped build this country so we should all be allowed to co-exist in peace.”
Earlier in the week, Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. released a statement regarding the anti-Muslim protest.
“I am asking all our community leaders to promote one message: Go about your usual business and ignore our visitors,” the statement read. “We cannot let them succeed in creating a false image of who we are that goes out over the media. They will ultimately leave our community and we can use the experience to strengthen our resolve to be one community supporting all of its members.”
The public apparently listened to the mayor as the protest drew a crowd of about 60 people who peacefully had conversations with anti-Muslim protesters.
Tracy Carter of Dearborn said she has lived in the city her whole life and has never had an issue with Muslims.
“It’s always groups who live outside of Dearborn who try to come and disrupt our community,” she said. “We haven’t been able to even have an Arab American festival in three years because of the incident with that group of Christians.”
During the protest, Dearborn Heights resident Mudhaffar Alyousuf was involved in a heated conversation with one anti-Muslim protester who called himself Bryan.
“I just wanted to explain that we deserve to live in this country just as much as the next person,” he said. “One Muslim doesn’t represent all Muslims, just like one Christian wouldn’t represent all Christians. Every group has radicals and also has those just living their normal lives.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)