While US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew arrived in Detroit this week to “highlight the Obama Administration’s continued commitment to the city’s revitalization,” we were appalled Monday night by Bill O’Reilly’s peppering and pressuring of Osama Siblani, publisher of The Arab American News, to admit that there are “jihadist mosques” in the Detroit area.
We don’t need such negative conclusions and coverage at Fox News, since the world knows Detroit has enough problems without those imagined or created by the media. Remember the coverage received in the media for that Quran-burning preacher Terry Jones and his Islamophobic protest in 2012 right in front of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn?
We choose to build upon all the good fruits of the following: the Karbala Education Center and Museum in Dearborn where one can see in artistic works how the three Abrahamic faiths have common themes and figures in their holy texts; the efforts of the Jewish-led Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network to improve the lives of young people and their families in Detroit, working with the public schools and holding interfaith services all over Detroit to spiritually uplift citizens through prayer and music; the Catholic-led All-Faiths Festival in Detroit and Macomb County, which has imagined and created together with others a number of interfaith initiatives including an annual interfaith, cost-free family picnic at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park the first Sunday of August at noon, a Unity Walk Thursday, August 28th at 6 pm bridging 8 Mile and the suburbs around Warren, MI., and an annual event, “Celebrating Family,” Thursday, June 19th, when hundreds of families, Knights of Columbus, and more will converge on the Warren City Hall at 4:45 pm to highlight children and their happily married parents and grandparents; the work of Common Word Alliance, a group of interfaith clergy working together in Hamtramck to reduce crime, create job opportunities and training for young people, and strengthen families of many different backgrounds and faiths.
These are just a few of the many interfaith efforts going on in our area.
“You don’t want to know,” concluded O’Reilly, as he talked over and interrupted Mr. Siblani in efforts to manufacture news rather than report facts related to questions about “militant mosques in Michigan.”
Unless we’re “naïve,” like O’Reilly charged Osama Siblani as being, none of the 6 mosques in Hamtramck are “militant.” And, if they are, we’ll be among the first to call the FBI, since we all love our metropolitan area, and we know that an assault on anyone is an attack on the human dignity and worth of everyone residing here.
As clergy in the trenches, we witness rivers of blood wet with our tears over unlimited control and access to guns and narcotics. We understand how education on gun use and sexuality must be taught in the home, schools and faith-based institutions, in order to help youngsters and adults appreciate these powerful forces of evil. We pray and work to nourish our youth with mentors, mothers and fathers, who model and point the way to virtuous and productive living for the common good.
We’re working with Detroit Pilgrim Baptist Church pastors, Renaissance Unity’s Rev. Jim Lee, Imam Arif Huskic, Imam Qazwimi, Rabbi Krakoff, Bob Bruttell, Bishop Edgar Vann, and other religious and civic leaders, to heal wounds of hate, discrimination, poverty, and all the social cancers causing violence in our Motor City and metropolitan area today.
We’re proud of the Arab American National Museum that opened in Dearborn in 2005, the first museum in the world devoted to Arab American culture and history. We’re proud of The Arab American News, among other media outlets, that calls for civility and positive engagement with loyal and grateful citizens who celebrate a rich tapestry and talent of diversity in this town.
We’re glad to participate in the Islamic Center of America’s April 26 breakfast honoring military officers from 56 different countries who have been studying in the USA for the past year.
We join hands in the National Day of Prayer Observance at the Ford World Headquarters that is organized by the Ford Interfaith Network on Thursday, May 1.
Finally, we relish Dearborn as the eight-largest city in Michigan being home of Henry Ford and Ford’s main headquarters. Dearborn is a leading tourist attraction because of its amalgam of interesting stores, restaurants, and faith centers, arising from its many peaceful citizens of both European and Middle Eastern heritage, including Polish, Irish, Italian, Lebanese, Iraqi, Syrian and Palestinian groups. And just on the other side of town we have a smaller city with an equally diverse, peaceful population. Hamtramck is filled with immigrants from Bangladesh, Yemen, Albania, Bosnia, and other countries. And yes, there are large groups of peace-loving Muslim people in both of these areas.
Grace, favor and blessings build up when people learn trust through experiences encountering others of different faiths and backgrounds, engaging each other in love and acts of kindness daily. We challenge Mr. O’Reilly to come to this region and feel the growing spirit of partnership from the people here in our great metropolis, one person at a time, arising steadily as we work to overcome forces of evil and despair. The distinguished hospitality of this region welcomes Fox News to find faith meeting faces, moving mountains, and creating prosperity in this city built on the narrow straits of the Detroit River between two of our of Great Lakes.
We stand together in solidarity, shoulder to shoulder, in support of our diversified region and the great State of Michigan.
In God we trust.
Rabbi Dorit Edut, Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network
Rev. Dr. Lawrence Ventline, All-Faiths Festival
Imam H. Al-Husainny, Karbala Islamic Educational Center