A legal team that has gone to court in the past to protect Christians at Arab events in Dearborn, Mich., is returning to the fray, this time taking on the local sheriff’s department over a decision by officers to threaten Christians with disorderly conduct while angry Muslims were heaving chunks of concrete, stones, bottles and debris at them.
It happened at the 2012 Arab International festival on Father’s Day weekend, and a video of the attacks has gone viral on the Internet.
There, an angry mob of Arabs chanting “Allahu Akbar” is seen throwing concrete and eggs at the Christians who were holding signs about their faith.
Officials with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, however, stood idly by during the attacks and then threatened the Christians with arrest if they did not leave, after a leader of the Christian group asked that officers enforce the law.
Now that Christian leader, Ruben Israel, has begun working with the American Freedom Law Center on a challenge to the police actions.
The AFLC reports that Israel “asked the law enforcement officers present to step in and enforce the criminal law so that the Christians could exercise their right to freedom of speech,” but was “given the option of either leaving the festival or facing arrest.”
WND reported earlier that a video reveals that the crowd – reminiscent of a rock-throwing “intifada” scene from the Middle East – hurled a dizzying barrage of objects at the Christians standing passively with their signs, causing some injuries.
WND later learned that the Christian crowd had been carrying a pole with a pig’s head attached to the top, further angering the Muslim crowd. At the beginning of the video, Christian street preachers shout, “God is good, and God is not Allah!”
Police approached Israel, of OfficialStreetPreachers.com, warning him, “The city of Dearborn has an ordinance, OK, that you guys can’t use the megaphone. So, if you guys continue to use that, you will get a citation.”
Israel noted that the group was allowed to use the megaphone in 2011. Then he asked the officer, “So, if we don’t use a megaphone, can we throw water bottles at the crowd?”
The officer shook his head no.
“So what are you going to do if they throw water bottles at us?” Israel asked.
“If that happens, we will take care of that and address it,” the officer promised.
When Israel said he had captured the mob’s assault on the Christians on video, the officer suggested he “take it through the proper channels, and we’ll try to find them.”
However, at the 2:17 mark of the video, the mob can be heard screaming, “You want to jump ’em? C’mon, let’s go!”
One boy yells, “Let’s beat the sh-t out of them!”
A girl shouts, “Go home! Do you understand English?!”
The Christians are no longer using megaphones, as the mob advances on them from all angles – hurling bottles, cans, eggs, chunks of concrete and even milk crates toward their heads.
Even young children shout obscenities such as, “F—k you, b-tch!”
Meanwhile, police are nowhere to be seen in the video: (Editor’s note: The following 22-minute video contains profane statements shouted by an angry mob and may be offensive to viewers.)
Despite the attacks the Christians endured, a man identified in the video as Deputy Chief Dennis Richardson of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office tells them, “You’re a danger to the safety right now.”
Officers claim they don’t have the manpower to protect the Christians at the festival.
“Your safety is in harm’s way. You need to protect everybody,” said Deputy Chief Mike Jaafar of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. “You do have the option to leave. I just want to make that clear.”
Israel replied, “You have the option to stand with us” as Jaafar walked away, leaving the Christians to the mob.
When police leave, the crowd continues harassing the Christians and screaming profanities.
Then police begin escorting the Christians away from the crowd.
Deputy Chief Richardson tells Israel, “We have the responsibility of policing the entire festival, and obviously your conduct is such that it’s causing a disturbance and is a direct threat to the safety of everyone here. Someone could get hurt. You already have blood on your face. One of the festival people, one of my officers, anybody can get hurt. Now we’re going to escort you out.”
Robert Muise, senior counsel for the AFLC, said, “Whether you agree to disagree with the Christians’ message, there is one issue to which there is no dispute: no citizen should be stoned in a city street in America for exercising his constitutional right to freedom of speech. And what makes this case so egregious is that law enforcement officers were present and made the conscious choice to allow the Muslim mob to silence the Christian speakers through violence. Indeed, the video of the incident looks like something you would see in the Middle East, not in the United States.”
David Yerushalmi, an expert on Muslim law and a co-founder with Muise of the SFLC, said, “While it is shocking to see video of Christians being stoned in the United States for criticizing Islam, it is not necessarily surprising that this incident occurred in Dearborn, Mich., a city where the mayor and law enforcement have consistently violated Christians’ free speech rights in favor of appeasing a large Muslim population and where, in line with the Islamic legal dictates of Shariah, the Christian Gospel is treated as criminally offensive speech, and violence ‘for the sake of Allah’ is reinforced by arresting or removing the Christians. What you are witnessing on the video is the enforcement of Shariah by a hostile mob and law enforcement aiding and abetting,” he said.
Following an attack on Christian pastor George Saieg at the festival in 2009, when he was prohibited from distributing information about Christianity, a lawsuit was filed and at its conclusion, a court awarded Saieg more than $100,000.
Then in 2010, four Christian missionaries were cuffed and jailed for peacefully preaching to Muslims. The city accused the Christians of “breach of the peace.”
After they were found innocent, a civil rights complaint was filed again the city and its officials and a judge recently rejected a request by the defendants to dismiss the complaint.
In 2011, a controversial Christian pastor proposed a peaceful demonstration against Shariah and the city and county hauled him into court, demanded a “peace bond” and jailed him until it was paid.
In that case, the AFLC said, “The prosecutor argued that because Muslim counter-protestors threatened violence if the Christians were allowed to hold their protest, the imposition of a ‘peace bond’ to prevent the demonstration was justified. A local state court judge agreed. Following a two-day trial, the court imposed a ‘peace bond,’ issued an order preventing the Christians from going near the mosque for three years, and jailed them until they paid the bond.”
Yerushalmi said the actions of authorities are not new; they have been seen before in locations where Islam demands those of other faiths have a lower standard of rights.
“The city of Dearborn and now the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office appear to be serial violators of the Constitution when it comes to defending the free speech rights of Christians who seek to evangelize Muslims or criticize Islam. Under Shariah, this is known as dhimmitude, which is the status that Islamic law mandates for non-Muslims, primarily Jews and Christians, that deprives them of equality of rights and seeks to subdue them under Islamic rule,” he said.
Muise said in America, speech serves “its ‘high purposes’ when it stirs people to anger.”
“Speech is often provocative and challenging, and it may have profound unsettling effects as it presses for acceptance of an idea. That is why freedom of speech is protected against censorship or punishment. There is no room under our Constitution for a more restrictive view. Additionally, the courts have made clear that a police officer has the duty not to effectuate a heckler’s veto, nor may he join a violent mob intent on suppressing speech. Instead, the officer must take reasonable action to protect persons exercising their free speech rights,” he said. “The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office egregiously breached its duty in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”
The center confirmed a legal action is being prepared.