Salaam / Peace
Protesters hope their voices can fight Florida pastor's
Apr 23, 2011
Salima Mustful, 17, of Dearborn Heights holds a Quran at the rally Friday outside the Henry Ford Centennial Library in Dearborn.
BY ROBIN ERB
Huddling under umbrellas in bone-chilling rain, hundreds gathered Friday evening in front of Henry Ford Centennial Library in Dearborn in a show of unity.
Their message: Florida Pastor Terry Jones doesn't speak for the rest of the U.S.
"We come here today not as Christians, not as Muslims, not as Jews, but as Americans," said Osama Sablani, publisher of the Dearborn-based Arab American News. "We have only one flag, and it is the American flag."
He called on the crowd, especially its young people, to remain peaceful and strong in the face of what he said is prejudice and ignorance.
And with Jones in a courthouse nearby and news helicopters circling overhead, Sablani told the crowd that Jones shares the same freedoms as all Americans, even though they might disagree with him.
"We will protect his right to speech with our blood and life," he said.
A few hours later, a jury ruled against Jones, saying his planned rally in front of the Islamic Center of America would "breach the peace." Judge Mark Somers ordered him to pay a $1 bond.
Many who gathered near the Ford library in the early evening were from Dearborn. They carried signs that read: "Hope Not Hurt" and "Dearborn welcomes all faiths" -- the ink running on poster board in the rain.
Other speakers also pleaded for tolerance, including U.S. Rep. John Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat, and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.
Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit Branch NAACP, said black people have more in common than not with Muslims who feel under attack.
As rain pelted the tent over the speakers, Anthony stirred the crowd into cheers and applause.
"We got a fellow up here that's bringing the cold, that's bringing the bitter, that's bringing indifference," he said of Jones.
Suhaib Al-Hanooti, 26, a student at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, came early to the protest.
"Even if it's raining, the community needs to be here. This isn't just about Terry Jones; it's about the community, about all of us -- united from all walks of life. ... Christians, Muslims and Jews."
Others came from more than an hour away.
Cea Noyes, a sociology and anthropology professor at Olivet College, and several students and friends made the 90-minute drive. If Jones headlines with hate, she said, it's important that the public see tolerance, as well.
"What he is doing is just appalling," she said.
Sophie Kanorek, 16, made the drive with Noyes, saying it was easy to give up a Friday night for something so important.
"My friends were like, 'Come to the track meet tonight,' " she said. But it was more important that voices other than that of "a bigot" be heard, she said.
Contact Robin Erb: 313-222-2708 or firstname.lastname@example.org