Four Christian missionaries will be arraigned on criminal charges on July 12 in the 19th Judicial District Court in Dearborn, Michigan. This is the next step in what has been described by the Thomas More Law Center in a press release as police enforcement of Sharia law in a city dominated by a large Muslim population.
To the jeers and shouts of “Allah Akbar” – Allah is Great - by the Muslim crowd, the four Christian missionaries were arrested and thrown in jail on June 18, 2010 by Dearborn Police officers at the Annual Arab International Festival held in Dearborn. One of the arrested missionaries was Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, MD, who was speaking to several Muslim youths. The other three missionaries, who were merely videotaping the conversation, had their cameras and other equipment seized before police arrested them as well.
According to the Thomas More Law Center, Dearborn Police refused requests by the missionaries to view the video at the scene of their arrest, which the missionaries claimed would completely exonerate them of any wrongdoing.
The Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan is representing all of the Christian missionaries. Because District Judge Mark W. Somers required that all four defendants personally appear before him for the arraignment, the Law Center assisted with the costs of their travel from different parts of the country.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commented, “It’s evident that the Dearborn Police department was more interested in placating Muslims than obeying our Constitution. These Christians were exercising their Constitutional rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion, but apparently in a city where the Muslim population seems to dominate the political apparatus, Sharia law trumps our Constitution.”
Thus far, according to the Law Center, police and prosecutors have refused to return the illegally seized cameras and video tapes. They have also refused to provide the Law Center with the police reports of the incident despite repeated requests.
Arrested on charges of Breach of the Peace are Negeen Mayel, Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, Paul Rezkalla and David Wood. Mayel, an eighteen-year old female whose parents emigrated from Afghanistan and a recent convert from Islam to Christianity, was also charged with failure to obey a police officer’s orders. She was at least 100 feet away and videotaping Qureshi’s discussion with the Muslim youths when police seized her camera.
Thompson added, “Not all police officers approve of the way their department treated these Christians.” Robert Muise, Senior Trial Counsel with the Law Center, will represent the Christian missionaries at the arraignment on July 12. Added Thompson, “These Christian missionaries were exercising their Constitutional rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion, but apparently the Constitution carries little weight in Dearborn, where the Muslim population seems to dominate the political apparatus. It’s apparent that these arrests were a retaliatory action over the embarrassing video of the strong arm tactics used last year by Festival Security Guards. This time, the first thing police officers did before making the arrests was to confiscate the video cameras in order to prevent a recording of what was actually happening.”
Thompson continued, “Contrary to the comments made by Police Chief Ron Haddad, our Constitution does not allow police to ban the right of free speech just because there are some hecklers. Not all police officers approve of the way their department treated these Christians.” The Law Center is also representing Pastor George Saeig who was prohibited by the Festival and Police authorities from distributing religious material at last year’s festival. That case is ongoing.