DEARBORN — On Wednesday June 25, police arrested an Iraqi American who was trying to burn the Qur'an in front of the Karbalaa Islamic Educational Center on Warren Avenue.
|Ali Hassan Al-Asaidi.|
Ali Hassan Al-Asaidi, 50, of Detroit, also admitted to burning three Qur'ans at the Karbalaa Center on June 10, according to Lt. Doug Topolski of the Dearborn Police Department.
The first Qur'an burning incident coincided with the visit of an anti-Muslim pastor from Florida and made national headlines.
Al-Asaidi was charged with littering and “unlawful escape of soot.” Releasing soot, an ash-like substance produced by the incomplete burning of organic items, breaches Dearborn's fire code. He posted bonds of $300 and $200, respectively, for the two violations.
Al-Asaidi told police that he sought help from local mosques to solve a legal matter, but when he was turned down, he became angry at the faith and decided to burn Qur'ans in retribution.
On June 25, around noon, Al-Asaidi was standing on the sidewalk in front of Karbalaa Center, holding a wooden club. A Qur'an was burning on the ground next to him. According to the police report, he threatened to strike a witness with the club if he came closer. Meanwhile, another witness took the club away from him and put the fire out.
Imam Husham Al-Husainy, the spiritual leader of the Karbalaa Center, said he does not know Al-Assadi. "He never asked for my help. I have never met him," he said.
Al-Husainy added that he does not think Al-Asaidi is acting on his own.
"Regardless of his identity, he has the same motives and goals as the anti-Islamic extremists," explained Al-Husainy. "Some people say he is mentally unstable. But we have been here at the center for 20 years and never witnessed anything like this. Why now? This could be a continuation of the failed visit of Terry Jones."
Jones is the anti-Muslim pastor from Florida. The imam said he has information linking Jones’ supporters to the June 10 incident.
He added that the Qur'an burnings aim to divide the interfaith community in Dearborn and to distract Arabs from the turmoil that is taking place in their homelands.
"This is not a work of madness,” he said. “It is a deliberate plan to keep us busy and distracted here at a time when our people are being killed in Iraq and across the Arab world."
However, the imam added that the anti-Islamic events that took place over the past month have failed to stir conflicts because locals of all faiths stood in solidarity with Muslims. "They gave us an incentive to be united as one community," he said.
Al-Husainy said Al-Asaidi, whose name suggests he was born to a Muslim family, is not known in the local Iraqi community.
"He cannot be a Muslim," said Al-Husainy. "No Muslim would ever do something like this."
Al-Asaidi is scheduled to be sentenced on August 5, at 8 a.m. in the 19th District Court.
-UPDATE: An earlier version of this story had misidentified the last name of the suspect.