DEARBORN - Terry Jones finally held his protest at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn on Saturday, April 7 much to the dismay of the community and local civil rights groups. The protest, which passed without incident, came days after back and forth arguments between the City of Dearborn and Jones’ camp who claimed his freedom of speech was being violated after the city requested that he sign a liability agreement.
Although Jones succeeded in putting on the protest as planned, the event wasn’t nearly as big of a spectacle as last year's Good Friday counter-protest of Jones, which resulted in multiple community meetings with interfaith groups and a media frenzy which concluded Jones being briefly held in jail by Dearborn Police after he originally refused to pay a $1.00 "peace bond."
Despite the lack of responses from locals on Saturday, who urged the community to ignore him this time around, there was still a counter-protest that was held by the civil rights group BAMN (By Any Means Necessary), only about a block away from the mosque. The group brought along about twenty individuals who demonstrated up and down on the sidewalk of Ford Rd., while chanting phrases such as “Hell No, Terry Jones.”
“We think that people like Terry Jones should be stopped from building a movement,” said Donna Stern, a Detroit resident and BAMN member. “This is a racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Islamic movement. This man is the perfect example of someone who would incite the type of violence that we saw occur in California when a woman was murdered for wearing a headscarf.”
Tristan Taylor, another BAMN member echoed in on some statements of his own.
“We need to make it clear that we won’t tolerate racist thugs and hate speech in our communities. We need to treat this threat seriously and making sure that we are not silent,” Taylor stated. “Hitler started off small and the approach people took was to ignore him. That gave him even more opportunities to build a stronger base. That’s why it’s important that we stop his message now before it grows,” he added.
While BAMN was demonstrating their anti-Terry Jones protest on the sidewalks of Ford Rd, in an earshot distance were Terry Jones’ protestors of about 20-25 people who were demonstrating right in front of the mosque.
Dearborn Police blocked off all corners of the mosque to prevent any sort of confrontation. During the two hours of Jones’ scheduled protest, the only people allowed on the mosque property were protestors who were on Jones’ list. According to a Dearborn policeman on duty, this was a request made by the Islamic Center of America. Still, it angered some locals who were standing nearby.
“I don’t think this is fair, this guy has prejudiced views and he’s an extremist. He’s trying to keep us isolated and show that we are evil,” said Ali Ahmed, a Dearborn resident. “Look at all this wasted resources. We are spending money to break the community apart rather than bring it together,” he stated, referring to the number of cops who were on duty at the scene.
An out-of-towner was also upset that she wasn’t allowed to go pray in the mosque. It was something she was looking forward to after hearing so much about “The biggest mosque in America” while living in both Dallas and Washington D.C.
“I came all the way here from Washington D.C to visit a friend and the first thing I told him over the phone was that I wanted to visit the Islamic Center of America,” said Nancy Al-Mahdi. “I wanted to come here and pray and I was not aware all of this was going on until today. This guy just needs to stop. You have the general of U.S Armed Forces who asked this man to stop, and you are telling us that as Arab Americans we are a threat?” she added.
The Islamic Center of America re-opened its doors around 3:30 p.m. after Jones and his protesters had cleared out.