Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
A lawsuit that challenges the official cooperation by the city of Dearborn, Mich., which has one of the largest populations of Muslims in the U.S., with Islamic interests makes a stunning allegation: that under the recognized “Shariah” law in the city, there have been “honor killing” murders that have been “covered up.”
The lawsuit was brought by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of four Christians whose speech and other civil rights were restricted by official city action at several recent city-sponsored Arab Fest events.
Officials in the offices of both O’Reilly and Haddad said they were unable to respond to questions about the case, which seeks a court order halting the city’s practices regarding speech and distribution of literature on public property at the city’s Arab Fest during the summers.
It also seeks compensatory and punitive damages from the defendants.
The allegation about the honor killings that have been “overlooked” in Dearborn comes on Page 61 of the 96-page complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan today.
Describing the circumstances under which police arrested the Christians and ordered them to spend a night in jail – rather than officers viewing readily available exculpatory evidence that ultimately cleared the missionaries of the charges – the complaint notes that during the booking of the Christians at the city jail, “a sympathetic city police officer told plaintiffs Qureshi and Rezkalla that some of the police officers were ‘on their side,’ ‘agreed with what they were doing’ and ‘didn’t think they did anything wrong,’ or words to that effect.”
The comments simply were “demonstrating further that defendants retaliated against plaintiffs for their religious speech activity,” the complaint explains.
“The sympathetic police officer told plaintiffs that the security personnel hired for the Arab Festival were mostly ‘criminals and gang members,’” the complaint explained. Then it continued:
“The sympathetic police officer told plaintiffs that there were instances in the city where ‘honor killings’ permitted by Shariah had taken place, but they were covered up,” the complaint alleges.
There were available no further details about the honor killings, which are murders committed by Muslims to protect or restore the “honor” of their families against their own family members who may have somehow created “dishonor,” such as refusing to cooperate with an arranged marriage, or marrying outside of Islam.
The civil rights complaint stems from two separate police actions at the June 2010 annual International Arab Festival.
Richard Thompson, TMLC president and chief counsel, noted the high percentage of Muslims in the Dearborn community.
“Muslims dominate the political and law enforcement process in Dearborn. It seems that police were more interested in placating the mayor and Muslims than obeying our Constitution. Shariah law makes it a crime to preach the Gospel to Muslims. This is a classic example of stealth Jihad being waged right here in America. And it should be a wake-up call for all patriotic Americans,” he said.
The first situation developed June 18 when police jailed four Christian missionaries when they witnessed Nabeel Qureshi, a Muslim convert to Christianity, peaceably discussing his Christian faith with Muslim youths.
The other three, David Wood, Paul Rezkalla, and Negeen Mayel, were arrested along with Qureshi for allegedly “breaching the peace,” and were led away in handcuffs by police while Muslim onlookers cheered and applauded.
See the arrest:
The second situation developed just days later, on June 20, as two missionaries, Rezkalla and Joshua Hogg, stood on the public sidewalk handing out the Gospel of John to passersby willing to take them.
According to the TMLC, the Christians were there for approximately five minutes when eight city police officers descended upon them, seized them, and brought them to the police command trailer located inside the festival where the Christians were admonished, photographed, and ordered to stop their peaceful religious activity.
The TMLC said, “It is evident that city officials, including the mayor, engaged in this unconstitutional official action solely to please this significant voting bloc and to submit to its will,” referring to the Muslim population.
“While the videos of the police violating the fundamental constitutional rights of our clients are utterly shocking, it is perhaps even more shocking that city officials, including the mayor, would engage in a propaganda campaign to smear the good reputation of these Christians even after they were acquitted by a jury of the bogus criminal charges. All of this is strong evidence of the fact that Shariah is negatively influencing the city and its officials,” said Robert Muise, TMLC’s senior trial counsel who is handling the matter.
The complaint explains that Acts 17 Apologetics was targeted by Dearborn police officers specifically because ministry members reach out with the Christian message to Muslims, but under Shariah, trying to encourage Muslims to leave Islam is illegal
“Through its expressive activities, Acts 17 and its members directly challenge Muslim beliefs and the Muslim juridical code know as Shariah,” the complaint says.
The city’s liability for the events is established because, “the city is actively involved in the conduct and support of the Arab Festival, providing numerous services from various city departments, including the police, fire, public works, economic & community development and recreation departments. Consequently, the city is a joint partner in the operation of the festival.”
The complaint explains that from 2004-2008 Christian missionaries roamed the perimeter of the festival freely, handing out religious literature and discussing their Christian faith.
But then Haddad was installed as a new police chief and other staff changes were made, and the result was that Christian missionaries’ speech suddenly was excluded from the public grounds.
After the 2010 confrontation, the lawsuit alleges, city officials illegally confiscated the missionaries’ cameras, which revealed exculpatory evidence, and then made false statements about their activities.
The case alleges violations of the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Sixth Amendment and 14th Amendment as well as assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
WND just days ago reported on an appeal in the only conviction that resulted from the city police efforts to close down the Christian testimony.
According to the Thomas More Law Center, whose attorneys have filed the appeal with the Circuit Court for Wayne County, Mich., the city ordinances in Dearborn require that if a police officer wants his orders followed, he or she has to be acting “in the lawful performance of his duty.”
However, testimony at the trial revealed that it was legal for the filming to be taking place where it was, and the law firm is arguing that a police officer “who violates the constitutional rights of a private citizen is not ‘acting in the lawful performance of his duty.’”
It was Nageen Mayel, 18, who was convicted in Dearborn District Court for failing to obey a police officer’s order. The order had been for her to turn off the camera that she was using to film fellow Christian missionaries at the Arab Festival.
“Astonishingly, at the trial, the officer admitted that the filming by Mayel was, in fact, not a crime,” the law firm said.
All four Christians had been charged with breach of the peace for talking about Christianity with Muslims, and all four were acquitted. Mayel’s conviction was the only one to result from the police action against the Christians.
The law firm explained the officer ordered her to turn off her video camera, “then forcefully grabbed Mayel’s arm and camera, placed her in handcuffs, and had her locked up in the city jail.”
The issue strikes directly at the heart of what many fear is developing across the nation: Muslims being given special treatment that subjects those of other faiths to second-class status. Other Christian groups paid for booth space at the festival, officials said, and were restricted to those locations. But these four individuals, who are linked to the Acts 17 Apologetics ministry group that Wood and Qureshi founded, simply attended and talked about their faith.
The longer video of the situation as it developed:
A similar problem had developed in 2009:
Dearborn Mayor O’Reilly earlier released a five-page letter defending the police department’s actions.
“The City of Dearborn has been under attack for several years by a group identifying themselves as Acts 17 Apologetics,” he wrote. “They arrive in Dearborn with the intent to disrupt a local cultural festival and misrepresent facts in order to further their mission of raising funds through emotional response.”