After the Sterling Heights City Council agreed to settle a lawsuit with the U.S. Justice Department and allow a third mosque to be built in the city, this time right in the midst of a neighborhood populated by Christian refugees who escaped persecution from Islam, some residents said they planned to move out of the city.
Sterling Heights, Michigan, is home to the nation's second largest community of Chaldean and Assyrian Christians, many of them coming directly from Iraq where their families were the victims of a genocide by ISIS, al-Qaida and other Islamic militants over the past 50 years.
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While understandable, picking up and moving in the wake of a mosque approval is exactly the wrong response, say Michigan activists.
"This is our city and our country and our community," said Tom Mitchell, a 52-year resident of Sterling Heights who says the council's vote gave him renewed determination to help support his Chaldean neighbors. "To leave would be like giving up on our Constitution, giving up to a culture that doesn’t believe in our Constitution and our laws. I tell people to stick it out, get more active but don't move out."
TRENDING: Raison d'être
Mitchell is a former member of the Army's 82nd Airborne unit.
"I never surrender. I'm a veteran," he said. "God, family, country, that's where I stand."
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But real-estate transactions are often a fact of life when a mosque gets built in a previously non-Muslim area. The newly released book, "Stealth Invasion," documents homes being snatched up by Middle-Eastern buyers in certain neighborhoods of Idaho and Minnesota after the U.S. State Department began sending heavy numbers of Islamic refugees to those areas.
The same trend has been seen in Warren, which borders Sterling Heights in Macomb County, Michigan.
Transforming the county, one city at a time
One resident of the 12 Mile Road area of Warren, who lives within a few miles of five mosques, told WND the area is changing a little more with each new real-estate transaction. Businesses once run by Americans have changed hands and now cater to Muslims with hookah shops, halal meats and Middle Eastern markets.
The local Walmart is frequented by women in burqas and hijabs.
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"People drive 18 miles away to Rochester Hills to shop because they don't want to shop here anymore," said Suzanne, who asked that WND not publish her real name for fear of retribution. She said it's not the Muslims she fears as much as the city of Warren itself, which she said has shown great hostility toward anyone who speaks out against the mosques.
Yet, even Rochester Hills is starting to get transformed, as shown by the photo at right.
"Here in Macomb County, we live by the old adage that all religions are equal but some religions are more equal than others," Suzanne told WND.
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"On our corner of 12 Mile and Ryan, there are these yellow signs put in the ground, on all four corners, that say 'we buy homes for cash.' And every time my husband and I take the signs down they go back up," said Suzanne, who is a member of Secure Michigan, a group that opposes Shariah law in America.
"And they're calling us to find out if we will sell our homes. We received a call," she said. "The strip mall that now houses a mosque also has a total Middle Eastern food market there. Rumors are they want to open an Islamic funeral home."
Whenever a house in her neighborhood goes into foreclosure, it usually gets purchased by a Middle Eastern family, said Suzanne.
The Islamic Organization of North America or IONA Mosque opened in a former strip shopping center sometime around 2006 or 2007, she said.
"We have 32 houses on our street and four have gone to Middle Eastern families. On an adjoining street we have three more," she said. "They seem to be getting all the ones that are two-story and have four bedrooms."
In the summertime, she said men take up space in the public park praying on white sheets spread out on the lawn. Traffic has increased exponentially.
So far, there has been no loud calls to prayer using loudspeakers. She expects that could start at any time based on what she's seen in nearby Hamtramck, a city just 10 miles south of Warren and 14 miles south of Sterling Heights that has been transformed from a Polish community to an Islamic enclave over a period of about 20 years. Hamtramck became the first U.S. city with a majority-Muslim city council last year and has daily calls to prayer over the loudspeaker.
Meanwhile, there are new questions being raised about the mosque given the green light to build in the Chaldean Christian community of Sterling Heights.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, an Obama appointee, indicated in a press release Wednesday that the American Islamic Community Center would be moving to Sterling Heights from its current location one county over in Madison Heights.
"The AICC, currently located in Madison Heights, Michigan, sought to build in Sterling Heights because the location is more convenient for its members and its current space has become inadequate for its religious, educational and social needs," the release stated.
Residents have said they don't believe there are enough Shia Muslims in Sterling Heights to support a large mosque of nearly 21,000 square feet. This is affirmed by the fact that many will be coming from Madison Heights in Oakland County. Sterling Heights is in Macomb County, a Democratic stronghold of mostly blue-collar workers that went for Donald Trump in last fall's presidential election. Neighboring Oakland, historically more Republican, went for Hillary Clinton.
Catholic, Lutheran churches resettle Muslim refugees
Macomb and Oakland and counties are two of the most densely populated suburbs of Detroit. The two counties have received more than 14,000 refugees since Barack Obama took office in 2008, according to State Department data. Most of them have been resettled by Catholic Charities and Samaritas, an arm of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
Michigan has received 2,120 Syrian refugees since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011. Many of them have been secretly placed into Oakland County against the wishes of County Executive Brooks Patterson, or into Macomb County, whose elected leaders have welcomed the resettlements.
WND has reported previously how a Wyndham Hotel in Sterling Heights owned by an Arab-American with ties to CAIR Michigan is being used to temporarily house refugees until they can be placed in surrounding communities like Troy, Hamtramck, Dearborn, Warren, Clinton Township and Madison Heights. All of these communities are being transformed, residents told WND.
In her blog Thursday, Ann Corcoran, a watchdog over the refugee program for the past decade, called the Obama-appointed U.S. attorney's accomplishment of getting a mosque approved in the heart of an Iraqi Christian community a "travesty."
She said this is how refugee resettlement is used to transform American cities, changing the nation by changing its demographics, one city at a time.
"Iraqi Christians will now be pushed out of this community in Sterling Heights, a win for the Islamic supremacists," Corcoran said.
Watch video trailer for "Stealth Invasion: Muslim Conquest through Immigration and Resettlement Jihad'
Worse, she said the U.S. State Department, which oversees the resettlement of refugees from the Third World into more than 300 U.S. cities and towns, has a habit of mixing people groups with ancient rivalries in the same American city, sometimes in the same apartment complex or neighborhood.
"… [T]he U.S. Department of State continually places Muslims in the same communities in which they have placed Christians from the Middle East," Corcoran said. "I’ve seen them place Burmese Muslims into Burmese Christian communities in some U.S. cities as well, and thus they bring centuries of religious conflict to American soil."
Corcoran said it also should be noted that mosques represent the expansion of Islam into non-Muslim areas.
This is affirmed by other experts such as Dr. Mark Christian, a former imam and son of a Muslim Brotherhood member in Egypt who converted to Christianity at the age of 28, later founding the Global Faith Institute in Omaha, Nebraska. He explained that the Islamic doctrine of "hijra" or migration is a very important part of spreading the faith.
"Islam as a political movement looks for expansion," Dr. Christian was quoted as saying in "Stealth Invasion: Muslim Conquest through Immigration and Resettlement Jihad."
"First and foremost it's a political ideology and, number two, it's expansionist. It's about how to establish your leadership in a region and very important how to expand, pushing those borders a little bit every day."
For that reason, it's doubtful that the Madison Heights mosque that McQuade indicated was moving to Sterling Heights will ever close and relocate. What is more likely is that only part of the Madison Heights congregation will pick up and make hijra to Sterling Heights, although this remains to be seen.
Suzanne, the resident of Warren, lives three miles from the planned new mosque in Sterling Heights. She asked WND not to use her real name out of fear that she will be singled out for unfair treatment by city officials. It's a pattern she has seen all too often whenever someone in her community speaks out against the mosques or is critical of Islam.
She lives within six miles of at least five mosques, she told WND, and has seen the area transformed by Islam since 9/11.
Her neighborhood is closest to the Islamic Organization of North America or IONA Mosque, which buts right up against her neighborhood. The mosque's imam, Mustapha "Steven" Elturk, was, like the vast majority of American imams, born in the Middle East. Now 61, Elturk emigrated to the U.S. from Beirut, Lebanon, at the age of 21.
Elturk has had a strained relationship with the surrounding community since opening his mosque in a large strip shopping center about 10 years ago on Ryan Road, Suzanne said.
"We filed a lawsuit to stop them from building a large playground on Walker Street next to our neighborhood with a gate giving access to our neighborhood. We lost," Suzanne told WND. "The city tried to shut down all the activists. The only reason I'm still active is they don't know who I am."
"We argued we didn't want access to a commercial property but we lost for religious reasons," Suzanne added. "The city lets them do anything they want. The mayor tells us we can't use the word Muslim or call them Muslims."
Suzanne said her group went door to door to gather petitions against the mosque playground access but the Michigan chapter of the George Soros-funded Welcoming America followed on their heels with a petition in support of the mosque.
Welcoming Michigan, like the group's other chapters, works to "soften the soil" of U.S.-born residents, seeking to cultivate support for arriving immigrants and refugees. Corcoran calls it a "well-oiled propaganda machine."
After filing a lawsuit against the mosque playground and losing, things started to change.
"The city started coming in and giving ordinance violations to anyone who showed up at council to complain about the playground or the mosque," Suzanne said.
Four men spoke publicly before the city council in opposition to the mosque's playground.
All four men were subsequently paid visits by city zoning police – one was cited for having a few pieces of firewood on the ground, another was cited for a downspout violation and another was written citations for his boat not being parked properly.
"Just petty stuff," Suzanne said.
She moved to Warren in 1964 and has seen its transformation from a mostly working-class city that fed off the auto industry to one that has increasingly taken on the appearance of the Middle East.
About a half mile down 12 Mile Road from the IONA mosque is Darul Uloom Islamic Center and School, which opened in 2014, according to its website. It is one of many Dar al Uloom madrassas that former Homeland Security officer and whistleblower Phillip Haney has tracked and described as radical. San Bernardino shooter Syed Farooq attended a Dar al Uloom mosque and exchanged repeated text messages with the mosque's imam in the months leading up to the attack.
The Dar al Uloom mosque in San Bernardino is a haven for activists involved with Tablighi Jamaat – a fundamentalist, proselytizing Islamic sect known in some circles as the "Army of Darkness."
"Dar al Uloom are the evangelists of the Islamic world," Haney told WND. "They emphasize children memorizing the Quran."
Darul Uloom of Warren's stated mission is to provide "authentic Islamic education in an Islamic environment. Darul Uloom Michigan has been sincerely serving the Muslim community since its inception, and by the grace of Allah (subhanahu wa ta‘ala), it is now a notable Islamic seminary with students of all ages from across North America."
"We were alarmed to learn we lived near that," Suzanne said.
"So I'm on a half-mile triangle of all of these mosques, and that's why, any space that comes available in the strip mall you know where it's going, any vacancy that comes open gets filled with an Arabic business or religious establishment so things are happening real fast in my neighborhood, and we have to keep quiet about it because they're shutting us down when we speak up in my neighborhood. Everyone who complained about the playground got visited by the city."
IONA imam Elturk holds regular interfaith meetings, sometimes at city hall, with at least two other imams and various Christian church leaders.
"They tell the police department they're afraid of us because they claim we follow them. I think they're just trying to find out what the police are doing in the neighborhood, what the game plan is," said Suzanne. "I know they work actively in our community within the interfaith group in order to get sympathy, but we're definitely out-numbered, I can see that already."
A homeowner who lives across the street from the planned new mosque in Sterling Heights has reportedly already been asked if she will sell her home.
Suzanne, like Tom Mitchell, hopes the Chaldean Christians won't leave the area that has become their home.
"When I go door to door to talk to people the reaction I get is they want to move," Suzanne said. They're chasing too many good people out. Most of my neighbors want to move out of Macomb County and into Oakland County, because Brooks Patterson is our advocate there. In Macomb they just lay down and accept whatever the mosques want. We don't have an advocate here."
The Sterling Heights group, led by the Chaldeans, is "very boisterous" compared to activists in Warren, Suzanne said.
"Our philosophy is you can't go around saying people are going to cut our heads off and expect to get anywhere. We have one person who we allow to speak on our behalf, and he's never once crossed the line and said anything prejudicial about the Muslims. It was always, this is our neighborhood, it's residential, we don't want noise, we don't want traffic, we never made it personal we never made it religious."
But Suzanne says keeping religion out of their arguments didn't seem to work any better than the Chaldeans' strategy of making it about a personal religious struggle against their former persecutors coming from Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.
"We probably lost quicker trying to be polite," Suzanne said. "We did it the PC way and we just got steamrolled."