This past Friday, an angry, hate-filled, unruly, mostly Muslim mob of several hundred people broke through police barricades and rushed across the street toward Pastor Terry Jones while he was speaking in front of the Dearborn, Michigan City Hall. The mob was yelling and screaming, making obscene gestures, holding Korans, throwing shoes and water bottles at Pastor Jones and his supporters.
Resembling riots in the Middle East, the mob waved Palestinian and Lebanese flags while hurling profanities in Arabic and English at Jones and his group of supporters. As Pastor Jones cautioned the crowd to honor and obey the Constitution, they booed loudly, jeered, and whistled to drown him out.
Riot police finally had to intervene to prevent the crowd from getting to Pastor Jones and his supporters. The police were eventually able to push the mob back across the street, but not until several of Jones' supporters had been hit with shoes and other projectiles hurled by the angry mob.
Dearborn, Michigan has the largest mosque in North America; moreover, with 30,000 of its 98,000 residents being Muslim, it has the largest concentration of Muslims than any other American city.
The City of Dearborn denied a permit for Pastor Jones and Associate Pastor Wayne Sapp to protest Sharia law and Jihad on April 22, 2011, on public property in front of the Dearborn mosque. Subsequently, the county prosecutor used an arcane statute dealing with peace bonds to file a complaint to prevent the pastors from speaking in order to “prevent crime.” The judge ordered Pastor Jones and Sapp to appear before the court, which ultimately resulted in an order to either pay a peace bond or face jail. Both Pastor Jones and Pastor Sapp were thrown in jail and were not released until after they paid the peace bond. The judge also ordered them stay away from the mosque and adjacent property for three years (now being appealed by the Thomas More Law Center).
On April 29, Pastors Jones and Sapp returned to Dearborn and gave their speech in front of City Hall.
Legal organizations including the ACLU, which vehemently opposed the content of Pastor Jones’s speech, as well as media commentators across the political spectrum, decried Dearborn’s violation of Jones’s constitutional right to free speech. The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan has agreed to represent Jones and Sapp, without charge, in their appeal of this unconstitutional suppression of speech.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center commented, “The constitutional right to free speech means that government cannot suppress speech just because it or a majority of society disagrees with the content of that speech. Nor can government charge someone a price to engage in free speech.”
The actions of the Muslim demonstrators were a stark contrast to Pastor Jones’s peaceful supporters, many of which stood holding American flags as they listened to his speech against radical Muslims, opposition to Sharia law in the U.S., and support of the Constitution.
Dearborn’s mayor, Jack O’Reilly, has a history of pandering to his large Muslim constituency.
In early March 2011, he appeared on CNN to oppose House Homeland Security Chairman Congressman Pete King’s (R-NY) investigation on the extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community. Moreover, the Mayor’s administration has engaged in a pattern of harassment of Christians who have attempted to minister to Muslims.
In June 2009, Dearborn police enforced a rule that prevented Sudanese Christian pastor George Saeig from distributing Christian religious literature during the annual Dearborn Arab Festival. The Thomas More Law Center is representing Pastor Saeig in that case. In June 2010, again at the Dearborn Arab Festival, four Christian missionaries were arrested on breach of the peace of charges while they were peaceably discussing their Christian faith with a group of Muslim youth. In September 2010, after a five-day jury trial, the missionaries, represented by Thomas More Law Center attorney Rob Muise, were found not guilty.
Continuing his pattern of pandering to his Muslim constituency, Mayor O’Reilly blamed the lawlessness of the mob on Pastor Jones, rather than on the mob itself.