Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Acts 17 Apologetics in Dearborn, Michigan

Several people have contacted us asking for summaries of the events in Dearborn. Since we didn't have a post with a complete summary, I thought it would be good to put one together.

I. ARAB FESTIVAL 2008

I attended the 2008 Dearborn Arab Festival, along with many other Christians. I stood on the public sidewalk and offered passersby Christian DVDs and copies of the Gospel of John. Some Muslims asked us about our beliefs, and we got into some good conversations. As far as I know, no one's Constitutional rights were violated, and I saw nothing that I would complain about.

II. ARAB FESTIVAL 2009

Prior to the 2009 Arab Festival, we were informed of a rule change. We would no longer be allowed to freely distribute tracts, DVDs, Bibles, etc., at the festival. Anyone who wanted to share materials (even if it was on a public sidewalk) would have to rent a booth. Since we didn't want to pay a fee in order to exercise our Constitutional rights, we had little interest in traveling all the way to Michigan to attend the Arab Festival. However, Nabeel and I went to Michigan anyway to take part in a series of moderated Christian-Muslim debates. Since we were there, we decided to visit the festival. On the first day of the festival, we got into a discussion with some Muslims at a booth. We mostly listened to their claims and accepted the materials they were distributing (which included both pro-Islam and anti-Christian pamphlets and CDs).

Later that day, we began hearing horror stories of Christians whose rights had been violated. The Muslim security guards (one of whom had "Hezbollah" tattooed down his arm) were using the no-distribution rule to harass and persecute certain Christians. Instead of merely stopping these Christians from distributing items, security guards were entrapping Christians who weren't distributing anything but were only attempting to evangelize. Again and again, a plain-clothes security guard would walk up to a Christian and say, "Hey, I see you've got a pocket Bible. Can I see it? I want to look something up." Then, as soon as the Christian attempted to hand the Bible over, security would take a picture and escort the Christian to police for violating festival rules. Thus, Muslim security guards were getting Christians into trouble for breaking the rules, even when Christians weren't breaking the rules. The goal was to keep certain Christian evangelists from witnessing to Muslims. (Note: This even happened to me at the festival. I had a pamphlet in my pocket, and a plain-clothes security guard asked me for it. Since I had already heard about this security guard using the same tactic to get Christians in trouble, I didn't fall for it. When I refused, I was told that I had better not talk to anyone about Christianity. These were the sorts of things leading up to our encounter with security.)

III. HATE MESSAGES IN DEARBORN

After finishing our debates on Sunday, we returned for the final day of the festival. We were disturbed when we again noticed an inconsistency. Christians were being targeted and harassed for evangelizing, yet Muslims were free to distribute t-shirts with a boy peeing on an Israeli flag.



IV. SHARIA IN THE U.S.

Shortly after we recorded the "Hate Messages" clip, Nabeel tried to ask a question at a booth that invited us to ask questions. The Muslims gave us permission to record the conversation (a fact which has been almost completely ignored by our critics). Ironically, Nabeel was asking a question about Surah 9:29 of the Qur'an, which calls for the subjugation of non-Muslims. Muslim security guards gave us their answer, by conspiring against us and physically assaulting us. Notice that they also assaulted Mary Jo Sharp, who was simply holding a camera.



V. JOSH MCDOWELL POSTS "SHARIA LOVE IN THE USA"

Following our treatment at the Arab Festival, Josh McDowell posted a video that was obviously meant as a response to our "Sharia in the U.S." video. Josh praised Mayor John O'Reilly, Police Chief Haddad, the Police Department, and the Arab Chamber of Commerce.



Of course, not everyone at the festival had the same experience. A comment on Josh's video shows that other Christians were harassed and persecuted:


So why did Josh have such a wonderful time, while we were being slapped around by security and other Christians were being harassed? It's quite simple actually. When you go to the Dearborn Arab Festival, certain groups are going to make sure you understand that they are in charge. The Chamber of Commerce, or security, or the police will let you know that you have to follow their rules, even if their rules violate the Constitution. If you accept their conditions, you'll be fine at the festival. If you object, you're in trouble. At the 2009 Arab Festival, for instance, Josh was told that he was not free to proselytize. Here's a comment on Josh's YouTube page showing that he accepted this rule:


The Constitution and repeated court rulings, of course, guarantee his right to proselytize, so there was no legal justification for demanding that Josh distribute explicitly Christian materials ("More Than a Carpenter") outside of the festival. But the price of peace at the festival is submission. I should note here that I have no objections if a ministry decides to submit to unconstitutional rules at the festival. Indeed, for short-term ministry purposes, this is probably the best bet. But someone needs to stand up for our Constitutional rights. Many people died to ensure our right to preach freely. Shouldn't we object when someone tries to take it away?

(I should also note that I do have objections to the phrase "Sharia Love." Indeed, I can't figure out what Josh could possibly mean by this phrase. Does it mean that he loves Sharia? Does it mean that Sharia promotes love? For anyone who knows what Sharia entails, the phrase makes no sense at all. James White comments on the phrase here.)

VI. DEARBORN POLICE ASSURE US THAT THE NEXT FESTIVAL WOULD BE SAFER FOR US

After the 2009 Arab Festival, Mary Jo Sharp and I discussed the incident with a detective at the Dearborn Police Department. The detective watched the video footage with us and concluded that charges could be made against three of the Muslims who attacked us. He gave us three options: (1) We could press charges against the three Muslims; (2) He could arrange a meeting with the three Muslims, so that we could all discuss what happened; (3) He could make sure that the three Muslims did not return to future Arab festivals. We ultimately decided to go with option (3). We thought that we were being generous by not pressing charges, and we foolishly believed that this might serve as an olive branch towards those who had assaulted us.

VII. ARAB FESTIVAL 2010

We returned to the Arab Festival in 2010. Since (a) security had attacked us the previous year, (b) security had tried to set us up the previous year, and (c) Muslims had threatened to harm/kill us if we returned, we knew that we had better keep cameras rolling the entire time. Our group was to consist of Nabeel, Paul, a friend named Josh, and me. Nabeel and I would do the talking, with Josh filming a few feet away. Paul would be filming from a distance, in case anyone tried to harm us or later made false claims about our actions. I would have a camera in my bag as a backup. We decided that we would only talk to people who first approached us, so that no one would be able to accuse us of harassing people at the festival.

Just before we were leaving for the festival, Josh got food poisoning. Thus, Paul would have to be our close-range videographer. We knew from last year, however, that we needed someone filming from farther away. We tried to find someone, but people were extremely reluctant to enter a situation where we had been threatened. In the end, the only person willing to enter a crowd of thousands of Muslims with us was, ironically, a 4'11 recent convert from Islam to Christianity--Negeen Mayel. Since we knew that someone might attack us, we didn't want Negeen too close to us. Hence, we instructed Negeen (a) not to talk to us or associate with us at the festival, (b) to stay far away from us at all times, and (c) to come get us if there's trouble, in which case we would leave.

VIII. DAVID AND NABEEL ENTER THE FESTIVAL

Nabeel and I entered the Arab Festival around 7:00 P.M. on Friday. We spent the first fifteen minutes or so explaining our reasons for returning to the festival.





Although we had planned that Nabeel and I would do most of the talking for our group, I noticed very quickly that young Muslims were far more interested in talking to Nabeel (since he was a former Muslim and was featured more prominently in our "Sharia in the U.S." video). Thus, for later discussions, I took a backseat and focused on recording.

IX. SECURITY CONSPIRES AGAINST US

When festival security guards (who had been embarrassed by our YouTube video demonstrating their thug tactics) realized we had returned to the festival, they began conspiring to have us kicked out. Leading the conspiracy was the Arab Chamber of Commerce's Norma Haidous, the Muslim woman who had assaulted Mary Jo at last year's festival (and one of the three individuals police had assured us would be banned from the festival). How do we know about the plot? Security revealed their plan to an Arab Christian, whom they mistakenly thought was a Muslim (due to his Arab garb). This Arab Christian later informed us of the plot against us. Additionally, a New York police sergeant who was visiting the festival overheard the plotting of festival security, and he also informed us of what was going on. Indeed, the New York police sergeant even contacted Dearborn Police Sergeant Mrowka to let him know that security was attempting to set us up. Sergeant Mrowka, however, refused to intervene. (Sergeant Mrowka later gave the order to arrest us. Was he in on the plot from the beginning?)

X. DOUBLE STANDARDS IN DEARBORN

The double standards at the festival were quite disturbing. Officially, people were only free to distribute materials at their booths. However, since Muslim security guards were in charge of enforcing this rule, it was applied selectively. As we walked through the festival, we saw numerous people distributing items outside of booths. Yet, if a Christian (assuming he hadn't earned the favor of the Arab Chamber of Commerce) were to hand out a tract or pamphlet, he would be harassed, bullied, and taken to police.



XI. ROGER WILLIAMS: DEARBORN'S DHIMMI

The volunteer who had taken Luke to police was a man named Roger Williams, a member of a Christian organization called "Impact International." Apparently, Impact International believes that the best approach for winning the favor of Muslims is to help Muslims rid the Dearborn Arab Festival of unwanted Christians. Thus, members of Impact went around the festival searching for Christians who were distributing materials, ultimately taking them to police for questioning.

We knew that Roger had harassed Luke. Thus, when we saw Roger talking to Luke again, we wanted to make sure everything was okay.



Roger testified in court that, after this brief encounter, security (yes, the same security guards who were looking for an opportunity to get us kicked out of the festival) convinced him to bring the matter to police. Roger was all too happy to comply, since in his mind this was the best way to befriend Muslims. In his effort to please security, Roger went so far as to falsify a police report (you can view Roger's shockingly deceptive report here).

Some of our critics have erroneously tried to exonerate the Dearborn Police Department by claiming that police arrested us based on the information they had, even though the information they had was inaccurate. (That is, Roger Williams gave them false information; the police acted on that information; hence, Roger Williams, rather than the Dearborn Police Department, is to be blamed.) This is incorrect, however. Dearborn Police testified at our trial that we weren't arrested based on our encounter with Roger. Instead, the Roger incident led police to come question us. It was our actions when police arrived, they claimed at our trial, that led to our arrests. (As the video footage will show, however, Nabeel was simply answering questions when police came and arrested him. The rest of us were recording. This explains the need to invent all kinds of false claims about us in order to justify our arrests.)

XII. NEGEEN'S ARREST

Negeen's job was to film us from a distance, in case something went wrong. Although we didn't want anyone to know that Negeen was associated with us (for her safety), security and the volunteers eventually realized that she was part of our group. Once police had decided to arrest us, they also decided that they had better get Negeen out of the picture, so that the arrests wouldn't be recorded. Two police officers and four others surrounded Negeen, ordered her to turn off her camera (this is illegal), put their hands on her (illegal) when she tried to alert us, and arrested her when she hadn't broken any laws (illegal). In case anyone is wondering, no, United States citizens do not have to obey the orders of a police officer if the officer has no right to issue the order. (This is why you don't have to obey a police officer if he tells you to wash his car, or take off your clothes, etc.)



XIII. NABEEL'S DIALOGUE WITH HAKEEM

Since we didn't know Negeen had been arrested, we kept walking through the tent we were in. A young Muslim approached us with our cameras rolling, and then said he was going to sue us for recording him. (Strange, since he walked in front of our cameras.) Nabeel engaged him in dialogue, and everything was going smoothly within a few minutes. Police can even be seen actually doing their job in the video, when they told Muslims to take a step back from Nabeel. As we now know, however, they were already plotting to arrest us, and were just looking for an excuse.



XIV. POLICE TELL US WE'RE FINE

According to Dearborn Mayor John O'Reilly, police ordered us to break up our conversation, but we refused. We also deliberately blocked a tent exit in order to cause a scene. These were supposedly the reasons for our arrest. These are interesting claims, since Mayor O'Reilly watched the video footage of our arrests, and since the video footage proves that the mayor's claims are false. I asked police if we should move, and they said, "No, you're fine." I don't speak Dearbornese, so I didn't realize that "You're fine" means "Leave now or we'll arrest you."



XV. DAVID'S ARREST

It seems that holding a camera in Dearborn is unofficially illegal. That's the only possible justification for having Paul and me arrested, since we were simply holding video cameras. Later, of course, the Mayor realized that there are no laws on the books against filming a dialogue, so he had to invent a story about me blocking a tent entrance in order to justify my arrest. But those pesky video cameras of ours just don't lie.



XVI. PAUL AND NABEEL'S ARREST

After police arrested me, they went for Paul and Nabeel. Notice how peacefully Nabeel was responding to the questions of Muslims, and how peacefully he reacted when police put him in handcuffs. This is quite different from the Nabeel we read about in the police report and Mayor's letter (i.e. the Nabeel who was screaming at a crowd and grew louder when police took him into custody).



XVII. OUR NIGHT IN JAIL

After being arrested, we were taken to the Dearborn City Jail. We began our stay by singing some hymns. Later, we even preached the Gospel. We were in different cells, so we couldn't see each other or other inmates. We eventually began the following discussion:

NABEEL: "Yo Wood, are there other people back here?"
ME: "Yes, and you're probably keeping them up by yelling to me."
NABEEL: "Maybe we should preach the Gospel."
ME: "The Gospel? What's that?"
NABEEL: "It's a message about . . ." [Nabeel explains the Gospel]
ME: "But Nabeel, there are lots of religions out there. Why should I believe this 'Gospel'?"

At this point, Nabeel gave a basic apologetics presentation. Interestingly, a few days later, one of the inmates sent us an email, thanking Nabeel for helping him get over some anger issues.

On a horrifying note, one of the police officers in the jail told us that there are honor killings in Dearborn but that they get covered up by the police department. He said that he had walked into houses where girls had been beheaded or had had their throats slit. (But check the local newspapers. You won't find any mention of these crimes.) The officer told us that some of the officers in the department support what we're doing.

XVIII. OUR POST-ARREST VIDEO

Shortly after we were released from jail, we recorded a video explaining what had happened. Many Muslims were rejoicing at our arrests and spreading all kinds of false accusations (more on this later). Nabeel made an important claim in this video, namely, that our stories would not change, while the stories of our critics would have to change in light of video footage. Apart from some minor details (e.g. Negeen seems to me to be less than 100 feet away, and we seem to have blurred the last two dialogues together in our minds--simple memory problems due to our cameras being taken way), our story is exactly the same. We were engaging in peaceful dialogue with Muslims when police arrested us. But what about the stories of our critics? What of all the claims that we were screaming at the crowd, that we were harassing Muslims, that we were inciting a riot, etc.? These stories changed over and over again as we released video footage, just as we said they would.



XIX. POLICE TAKE US INTO CUSTODY FOR HANDING OUT THE GOSPEL OF JOHN

Two days after our arrest, Paul, Negeen, and I returned to the Arab Festival, along with our friends Antonio and Josh. Paul, Josh, and Antonio were distributing copies of the Gospel of John (outside of the festival) for less than three minutes when eight police officers surrounded them. Police also seized my camera (illegally) and took all of us into custody. When Antonio tried to call his pastor, police seized his phone. They took us to their portable police station, photographed us, and wrote down all of our information. They told us that we would have to walk five blocks away from the festival if we wanted to distribute copies of the Gospel. If we dared hand anything out again within five blocks of the festival, we would be taken to jail.



This video doesn't tell the whole story, for a crucial detail is left out. While we were at the festival, police illegally forced us to erase some of our video footage. There was absolutely no respect for our civil rights.

XX. JOSH MCDOWELL POSTS "ARRESTED IN DEARBORN? NOT!"

Shortly after our arrests, Josh McDowell again posted a video defending Dearborn. Josh explains that he didn't get into a single argument the entire weekend. After receiving heavy criticism, the embedding feature and comments have been disabled for Josh's video, but you can still watch it here.

According to Haytham Abi-Haydar, Josh McDowell's ministry received special privileges at the 2010 Arab Festival. Presumably due to his loyalty last year, Josh's team was allowed to violate the distribution rules. They were allowed to walk around the festival distributing materials, without interference from security or police. Defending the city has its privileges.

XXI. DEARBORN POLICE REFUSE TO RETURN OUR VIDEO CAMERAS FOR NEARLY FOUR WEEKS

Dearborn Police illegally seized our video cameras on June 18th. Obviously, they didn't want us posting what really happened on YouTube. On June 21st, the Thomas More Law Center faxed a letter to Chief Haddad demanding the immediate return of our illegally seized video equipment. Also on June 21st, Judge Mark Somers (the judge who would later try our case) issued a warrant for police to examine the video footage. On June 22nd, the Dearborn Police Department made a copy of all our video footage. Since they had a copy of all our footage, there was no reason to keep our cameras. Nevertheless, the Police Department refused to return our video cameras until July 14th (after being ordered by the court to return them). It seems the police wanted to keep us from posting footage that would prove our innocence.

XXII. THE CITY OF DEARBORN AND MAYOR O'REILLY LAUNCH A CAMPAIGN OF DECEPTION

The City of Dearborn received thousands of complaints about our arrests. The city saved the contact info of the people who complained. The city later used this contact info to spread numerous lies about us, through the letter of Dearborn Mayor John O'Reilly. The city further misled people through its website.

According to the City of Dearborn's official website:

Public safety became an issue for both members of Acts 17 Apologetics and the gathering crowd. The four (4) members of Acts 17 Apologetics chose to escalate their behavior, which appeared well-orchestrated and deliberate, and chose not to follow the directions being given to them by the responding officers. The behavior of these individuals drew and incited a large crowd to a point where they were in violation of City of Dearborn Misdemeanor Ordinances of Breach of Peace and Failure to Obey the Lawful Order of a Police Officer. They were arrested. Upon their arrest, the crowd dispersed without further action being needed.

Mayor O'Reilly's letter distorts the facts even more:

At the time he was arrested on Friday, June 18, Mr. Wood had gathered a large crowd around him, blocking a key access point between the tents. The crowd was forced to grow bigger solely because people could not pass. Those who created this public danger did so with the knowledge that they were violating the laws because they wanted to be arrested while their cohorts were actively recording the event for posting on the web. They knew that they could inflame the passions of viewers who would be taken in by their misrepresentation of what was really going on.

The video footage clearly refutes these absurd claims, which is precisely why the Police Department refused to return our cameras. Dearborn's leaders wanted to attack us, but didn't want the public to learn the truth.

XXIII. NABEEL RESPONDS TO MAYOR O'REILLY

Since we didn't have our video footage, Nabeel made a video refuting claims that could be exposed without our video footage. As you can see, the mayor's letter was filled with false claims.



XXIV. CHRISTIANS GO ON THE OFFENSIVE . . . AGAINST US

The response we received from Muslims wasn't surprising. Some Muslims contacted us and said that they disagreed with the treatment we received, while others supported our arrests. The Christian response, however, was shocking. While many Christians spoke out in our defense (e.g. James White, Michigan State Representative Tom McMillin, and, yes, Chuck Norris), numerous attacks against us were launched, led by Pastor Haytham Abi-Haydar, Hussein Wario, David Cougle (a Christian lawyer), Ali ElHajj, and several others.

It's one thing for Christians to disagree with one another. It's something else entirely for Christians to make utterly false claims. For instance, Ali ElHajj said of us: "they're about as abrasive as they can be." If calmly answering questions about Christianity is the epitome of abrasiveness (as Ali seems to believe), I would hate to see his reaction to numerous New Testament texts, which often involve open rebuke and the condemnation of opposing views.

Shortly after the festival, a lawyer named David Cougle sent a message to thousands of Christians. (He didn't bother sending his accusation to me or Nabeel.) Cougle claimed that he had witnessed us harassing children:

"I was present when both David and Nabeel were arguing and harassing children, as they were right behind the table I was at. I watched them do it."

Since on no occasion did we harass or argue with any children, I was confused about Cougle's claim. I asked him if he could describe the encounter. When I finally figured out what he was talking about, I reviewed our video footage. Nabeel, Paul, and I were sitting against a wall. A group of children came up to us, mocked Jesus (note: Muslims aren't supposed to do this), and called Negeen a "whore." Despite their insults, Nabeel responded peacefully and changed the subject. (Paul and I kept our mouths closed.) We didn't argue with them at all, and we certainly didn't harass them. Later at the festival, Nabeel even bought treats for two of them at a concession stand. (One of them eventually asked me for a copy of the Gospel.) Hence, I was thoroughly confused by Cougle's confident assertion that we had harassed them. When I asked him about it, he changed his story radically. Instead of saying that he had witnessed us harassing children, he said that he overheard children complaining to police that we had harassed them. Quite a difference, don't you think? Yet Cougle refuses to correct his error or apologize to the Christians he misled with his false claim. Cougle wrote a report to police and was willing to testify against us, but apparently the prosecuting attorney knew that Cougle's testimony would be inadmissible hearsay.

The main force behind the misrepresentation of our work has been Pastor Haytham Abi-Haydar, who spread numerous false reports of our activities (e.g. that police ordered us to leave, but we refused, that police only removed us for our safety, etc.), constantly defended the City of Dearborn, testified against us in court, and even encouraged other Christians to testify against us. To this day, I have no clue what Haytham hopes to gain by attacking Christians and defending Dearborn.

These are the sorts of claims we've had to deal with, but the inaccuracies aren't merely the result of individual Christians. Both Christianity Today and Charisma distributed horribly inaccurate accounts of what happened in Dearborn.

There seems to be little concern for truth or accuracy among our critics.

XXV. OUR WEEK-LONG TRIAL IN DEARBORN

Since the video footage obviously exonerated us, I expected the City of Dearborn to drop the ridiculous charges against us. But I had forgotten that this is Dearborn, a city all too willing to prosecute people for holding a video camera and answering questions. The trial began on Monday and lasted until Friday. Throughout the trial, prosecuting attorney William DeBiasi attempted to convince the jury that video footage isn't all that reliable, and that they should therefore accept the testimony of witnesses who completely contradicted what was clearly seen on the videos. I guess that's about the best you can do when all of the evidence favors the defendants.

DeBiasi was rather diabolical. In order to avoid the impression that the trial had anything to do with Islam, DeBiasi didn't call any Muslim witnesses to the stand. He did, however, call a number of Christians as witnesses, and he repeatedly referred to Josh McDowell's presence at the festival as proof that the City of Dearborn has no objections to free speech and no problem with Christian evangelism.

Although Judge Mark Somers allowed hearsay testimony reporting complaints about us, he refused to allow testimony of people who had heard security plotting to have us kicked out of the festival. He even refused to allow Negeen to argue that the order issued by Corporal Kapanowski was unlawful. This was quite strange, considering the fact that Kapanowski admitted, under oath, that Negeen hadn't even been accused of a crime when he approached her (in which case he had no right to order her to turn off her camera). There's more on this here.

The stories of Dearborn Police in court were quite different from what they wrote in their police reports, for they had to "argue around" the video evidence. Thus, Kapanowski argued that even though there weren't all that many Muslims surrounding Nabeel in the video footage, there was a massive crowd that wasn't picked up by the cameras (despite the fact that we had two cameras rolling, facing different directions). Kapanowski also claimed (contrary to the police report), that Nabeel only began yelling and inciting the crowd after our cameras were taken from us. Kapanowski even said that the crowd began to turn against the police! (If you watched the video of the crowd cheering as we were taken away in handcuffs, you know how absurd this claim is.)

In the end, we were found "not guilty" of breaching the peace. The video footage was simply too strong to ignore. Based on the judge's blunder, however, Negeen was found guilty of failing to obey the lawful order of a police officer (even though the order was unlawful). This faulty conviction is being appealed.

XXVI. LOVING MUSLIMS, CHALLENGING ISLAM

Following our acquittals in Dearborn, Mayor John O'Reilly continued his barrage of false accusations against us. I responded to some of the mayor's deliberate misrepresentations of our views:



XXVII. SHARIA IN DEARBORN?

As is always the case, it's easy to misinterpret things when one hasn't carefully examined the facts. This happened when political candidate Sharron Angle claimed that Dearborn is under Sharia law. Due to this claim, Angle was repeatedly ridiculed by the media. To clear up the misunderstanding, consider the difference between the following claims:

CLAIM #1: Dearborn is under Sharia.
CLAIM #2: Someone enforced Sharia in Dearborn.

The first claim suggests that the city is officially governed by Sharia. The second simply claims that someone carried out some tenet of Islamic law. For instance, if someone in Dearborn steals a radio, and, in accordance with Islamic law, a Muslim chops off his hand, I would say that someone enforced Sharia in Dearborn.

As we have repeatedly stated on our blog, we are claiming that someone has enforced Sharia in Dearborn. When I find that I am not free to distribute materials outside of a booth, while numerous Muslims are free to distribute materials outside of their booths, and I learn that Muslim security guards are the ones behind this situation, I conclude that someone is implementing an element of Sharia. When Muslim security guards physically assault Christians for questioning Islam at a booth, I conclude that someone has enforced Sharia. When Christians get arrested while having a peaceful discussion with Muslims (and the Muslims don't get arrested), I conclude that someone has enforced Sharia. Does this mean that the entire city is governed by Sharia, or that the city has seceded from the United States? Not at all. It seems that many of our critics believe that there are only two possibilities: Either (1) a city is completely, totally, utterly governed by Sharia, or (2) Sharia has no impact at all. These alternatives, however, are incomplete. A third alternative is that Sharia has a limited impact in the city, and I would say that this is the case in Dearborn.

XXVIII. LAWSUIT

Yes, it's coming. Wait for it . . .

XXIX. ASSESSMENT

What does this leave us with? If you see something wrong in Dearborn, you'd better be quiet about it. What happens in Dearborn stays in Dearborn. If you're willing to keep quiet about injustice, and if you're willing to defend the city, mayor, and police department regardless of what they do, you'll be a welcome visitor. If, on the other hand, you draw attention to wrongdoing, if you shine a spotlight on injustice, you will be attacked, both physically and verbally. You will be thrown in jail. Many Christians will condemn you (though they won't say a word against the city). The slander and libel will not cease. If the police department repeatedly lies in order to justify your arrests, the media will ignore it. If your rights are violated by police, the judge will rule in favor of the police. You will be thrashed by the media. You will be called a racist and a bigot. The city will do anything to send you a message: "Don't draw attention to what's going on here. . . . or else."

Sounds like a job for Acts 17. If we hear about Christians being harassed by a security guard with "Hezbollah" tattooed down his arm, we aren't going to ignore it. If we walk by a booth distributing "Pee on Israel" t-shirts, we're going to say something. If someone puts their hands on our Christian sisters (Mary Jo and Negeen), we're not going to praise security, or police, or the mayor. There is, of course, a penalty for our position. When we enter Dearborn, we have a police force, a prosecuting attorney's office, judges, the mayor, some Muslims, and even some Christians who are willing to do anything to silence us.

Welcome to Dearborn. "Nothing to see here."

29 comments:

Nakdimon said...

Massive summary. Well done.

Thanks.

Haecceitas said...

Yeah, this is an excellent summary.

At some point you said that you are planning to eventually release the footage in its entirety. Are you still planning to do that? Since the Dearborn police had a chance to go through it and show whatever they thought was relevant while in court, I know that any charge of you being selective with the footage is no longer credible. But it would still be good to see the footage in its entirety.

There are few things that I hadn't heard/read before. (1) the part about police forcing you to delete some of the footage from the second day incident. (2) The mention by a police officer about honor killings in Dearborn. These seem like huge issues, so I will assume that the first one is going to come up in the civil lawsuit (was there something particularly objectionable about the police conduct in the part of the footage that got deleted, btw?) and the second issue seems like something that hopefully will be dealt with somehow after the corruptness of the Dearborn police becomes even more evident.

David Wood said...

We decided against posting all of the footage (though if someone really wants to examine all of it, we can make it happen). There's too much footage with kids acting inappropriately. We thought about blurring out the faces with editing software, but it didn't seem like it was worth it.

Neil said...

Outstanding job guys. You inspire me to go to the streets and spread the gospel. In fact, if possible, I would love to e-mail with you and get some pointers (NeilKHess at gmail).

I'm glad that the resistance has not gotten you down. Rather, I pray that it strengthens your resolve to love and preach the gospel to our Muslim friends.

May God richly bless your ministry, and may the truth of the Gospel be spread!

Neil

Bartimaeus said...

The big question is what about Dearborn 1011. Lord willing I hope to be there to passout tracts, knock on doors and of course to have peaceful conversations and discussions with the Muslims at the Arabfest. An if Mayor O'Reilley wants his Gestopo there then I will proclaim Christ to them as well.

Thank you David and Nabeel for all the work you have done and the courageous stand you have taken.

Jabari said...

David said........
A group of children came up to us, mocked Jesus (note: Muslims aren't supposed to do this), and called Negeen a "whore." Despite their insults, Nabeel responded peacefully and changed the subject. (Paul and I kept our mouths closed.) We didn't argue with them at all, and we certainly didn't harass them.

Um, David:

1)How old were these children????? Were they in the range of ages 8-17?????

2) The fact that they mocked our Savior shows that these muslims don't even love him, let alone respect as they say they do. You guys responded peacefully, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and maybe the one who asked for the Gospel of John might be saved :).

3) I take it you guys are going back next year. If I get a job in Indiana, can I join you????

4) I'd really like to examine those kids who mocking our Savior. You think you could do that David, even though they we might see them acting in an inappropriate manner???

Haecceitas said...

Can you please clarify this part?

"On a horrifying note, one of the police officers in the jail told us that there are honor killings in Dearborn but that they get covered up by the police department. He said that he had walked into houses where girls had been beheaded or had had their throats slit. (But check the local newspapers. You won't find any mention of these crimes.) The officer told us that some of the officers in the department support what we're doing."

I would suppose that when the officer said that these things are "covered up", it means that the fact that these crimes are honor killings is covered up. One could alternatively read this as saying that the police totally ignores or covers up these crimes and doesn't seek to prosecute and punish the perpetrators at all, but that would be harder to believe. This was how I first interpreted it but that was probably my mistake, right?

Lydia McGrew said...

I thought you might be interested in this case that the county settled out of court.

http://www.lifenews.com/2010/12/27/county-settles-case-of-pro-life-advocates-shackled-strip-searched/

It bears some interesting similarities to your case, according to the claims of those arrested: The arrest without warning. The refusal to tell them the charge. The blatant use of "disorderly conduct" and "refusal to obey an officer's order" to excuse an attack on unwanted speech even when, apparently, they didn't refuse to obey any officer's order.

And the pro-life girls were treated extremely badly. Glad that Negeen didn't have the things happen to her that happened to them, cold comfort though that is.

Looks like ADF is going after it aggressively, which is good.

The Fat Man said...

@Haecceitas said...
One way police cover up violent crimes is by downgrading them. For instance a assult turns into a misdamenor charge. Rapes turn into assult charges, etc...

David Wood could tell you more about this, but there is a big police scanadle with the New York police department involving such incidents. They pad the books to make their districts look crime free.

In the case of a honor killing murder. They would down grade the charge to a man slaughter charge or some other such nonsense, rush a plea agreement in with a suspect so not to have a trial where the gruesome evidence would be released.

It's a sad fact of the American media, but unless your, wealthy, white, or your family has some sort of political clout then the media is not going pay much attention to your murder.

If no one from the family makes a fuss then there is no need to look deeper. Out of site out of mind, just another statistic, lets hope this murder doesn't drop our property value or make our neighborhood look bad.

The Fat Man said...

David, I say since the video was out in the open, and they knew they were being recorded, they knew you post video's to youtube. Then I say post the raw footage. Islam in all its glory

Yahya Snow said...

Dear all...

Here is my apology:

http://thefactsaboutislam.blogspot.com/2010/12/soul-searching-over-criticism-of-acts.html

gran'pa said...

David,
There is such a thing as the Freedom of Information Act. Indeed, if as this officer reported to you that these girls or women had their throats slit or were beheaded, then some official report must exist. If indeed you wish to unmask the ugliness and absolute viciousness, the bankruptcy of this vile cult of islam and the tendency of it's muslim practitoners to resort to violence, then I would expect a full accounting and report on these pages than cannot be refuted.

peter said...

Hey guys I love your work and your religious zeal. It is very inspiring to Christians all around. Iv followed the events that have taken place with you guys at Dearborn and I really never thought this would be the case in a US City. However, it is definitely the case in my homeland of Egypt. I am a Coptic Orthodox Christian from Egypt where my people are constantly being persecuted and oppressed by the Muslim majority. I'm not sure if you guys have heard about the recent new years bombing of a Coptic Church in the City of Alexandria, but it is just disgusting and a real sad sight for all Christians and for any humane person at that. Here are some links of the attack:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TU_WRNeUDh0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPNfcNQTGTc
This is just the latest of attacks on Christians in Egypt. Within this year alone:
1)there was a drive by shooting at a church in nag hammadi right after Christmas midnight mass where 6 were killed,
2)hundreds of christians protested in Cairo in November after police halted construction of a church and live munition was fired into the protesters,
3)and now finally this, on new years the bombing that left 21 dead and 100 wounded.
If you guys would look into this yourselves you will see the injustice that takes place in our native land. We just celebrated the Orthodox Christmas on Jan 7th with a midnight mass late last night. As you know Christmas is a very joyful feast in our faith. However, this year it is bittersweet because of our brothers and sisters who unjustly died just a few days ago.
I would greatly appreciate it if you guys looked into these events and gave your take on them.
Thank you

Peter said...

Get a real job, and stop spreading hate. Why can't you throw off your pious masks and choose to help an event that is so obviously good for the community?

Wesley Harris said...

I'm sorry Peter, but since when is disliking a meme a bad thing? We each are allowed to think , love , and hate as we please. Please edify.

Marsha said...

I think that your rights were definitely violated. However, I think you are wording your experience in a very dangerous way. One of your videos ends with "If Islam grows in the United States is this what will become of our nation". This implies that Islam itself is the problem. The specific people involved in this situation do not and can not represent all of Islam. No more then you can represent all Christian people by saying "You are simply representing Christianity". Again I think that your constitutional rights were violated BUT Islam is not the group that violated them. This group of people, who happen to live in Dearborn and can not represent the entire Muslim population, decided to disregard your constitutional rights. Irregardless of the reason, that is the issue. Practice what you believe as a Christian and judge not lest ye be judged and love thy neighbor. Don't judge an entire group of people based on a specific indecent. The group is not responsible for the actions of individuals operating under their own free will. I would also like to state that I am a Christian.

Pali4life said...

I Have a question ,I am an Arab-American musilm , I see a a Festival where all of the attending people are Christians, Would I go to that festival and start talking about islam?
HElll Noooo

David Wood said...

Pali4Life,

(1) This wasn't a Muslim festival. It was an Arab Festival, open to the public. There were many Christians there.

(2) We didn't walk up to people and start talking about Christianity. People came up to us and asked us about Christianity, and we answered their questions.

(3) If you were to show up to a Christian festival, I would welcome you and take great joy in discussing your religion.

(4) It sounds as if you approve of our arrests. Some would regard this as proof of your radical Islamic supremacist views.

RealityBites said...

The sad part is you're all arguing about nonsense, just emotional superstition.

That is why you can not come to a mutual understanding because your are both silly: "My god is #1" ... "NO my god, not your god, is #1"

Your perception of ancient god(s) in the clouds is just as invalid as the muslim or hindu or any other wishful tribes.

Your fables say god killed innocent millions (strangely, that he "created" to be killed?) in the flood, plagues, first born, etc but god is all-knowing and omnipotent? That is the cruelest god possible.

"Here is a delicious apple tree, BUT don't eat it - - eventhough I know you will then I can damn all of you for eternity" Sounds like a crock o crap.

Do you have a thinking brain? Religion is fake ancient fables.

People don't know stuff, religious or scientists, so they make it up. Just say "we dont know" and so what.

Its fun to be part of a group though.

Warwick said...

Yeah RealityBites, what group are you part of?

Mike said...

Reality Bites,

Nice English. Perhaps when you grow up a little bit people will take what you have to say more seriously. From what I read, this entire blog doesn't have much to do with one religion against another. It has to do with people's civil rights being trampled upon by a group of Islamic extremists and people not willing to stand up for what this country had always been a light for, Freedom.

Klipstein said...

Regardless of beliefs, this is about freedoms, not religion. Religion is just the subject matter. Be aware.

nesty said...

Ok, I just saw the other video titled Arab Festival 2010 and it does explain in detail why you guys were arrested. Let me ask you a question, does a group of people that have views diametrically opposed to the KKK have the right to distribute anti-KKK publications inside a KKK rally? I would hope so, I mean, this is America, right?

Now imagine that you are a police officer inside that KKK rally and you have been entrusted with the task of keeping the peace and avoiding chaos. At that point does the officer have to make a judgment call between my right to distribute anti-KKK publications and their job to keep the peace? Let’s say the cops decide to allow me to practice my right of freedom of expression inside that rally, what are the odds a large number of people will become angry and unrest may ensue? I’d say pretty good, of course it’s not certain, but the odds are good indeed.

In your case, even though you should have the right to express your views as you please, your group was trying to do it in a place where your presence increased the odds of unrest. Even though the police may have exaggerated or misinterpreted the details of the situation, it was obvious to me that it was a tense and temperamental moment that could have escalated into something worse.

At that point the police has to make the judgment call between your rights and the possibility of a large group of people being hurt. I would have hoped they had given you a warning prior to being arrested, but they did the right thing in removing you from the situation. They were protecting not only you, but everyone else involved.

The right to freedom of speech and expression is not absolute. I can’t go into a theater and scream fire, because it can cause chaos and people could get hurt. In this situation, society has determined that my right to freedom of speech and expression must be curtailed in favor of civility and this is what happened to you and your group in that festival. Your presence alone in the festival disturbs the peace. Having said that, the same should be a a Muslim group trying to convert people inside a Christian festival, because it may also disturb the peace.

Yes you have all the right to practice your religion, but you and I do NOT have the right to express them in every single situation and we should not wait for the police to tell us. We should be adult enough to know when something is improper and have the mental fortitude to withstand our whims especially when we know it taunts others. I know you want to convert the whole world to Christianity and that desire is fine, but be smart about it. This kind of thing makes Christians look like underhanded car salesmen and you should want better for your church. This is not about Sharia law, this is about keeping the peace. Your group apparently has done this in the past with similar results and therefore had prior knowledge that distributing the documents at the festival was hazardous yet you chose to go ahead with a mode of conduct which could have put people in danger.

David Wood said...

Nesty, you've misinterpreted a number of factors.

(1) This wasn't a Muslim festival or a religious festival. It was an Arab Festival, and everyone was welcome.

(2) This was a public festival.

(3) How is our very presence at a public festival a "breach of peace" (i.e. a violation of city law)?

(4) The courts have consistently ruled against the "Heckler's Veto," i.e. the view that "Police can remove whoever is being heckled or threatened." We weren't doing anything illegal. If someone else was causing a problem, the job of police is to remove the people breaking the law.

(5) Police didn't remove us for our own good or for our own safety. They put us in handcuffs, charged us with "breach of peace," threw us in jail, and put us through a five-day trial for doing absolutely nothing wrong. That's why they're being sued.

nesty said...

David, my comment was not from a strictly legal point of view so when I say breach of peace I did not mean to imply a legal infraction, but more of a moral infraction.

However, from a legal standing,based on what I've seen on all the videos, I do believe your rights were trampled and you should fight for them vehemently. My comment was more about your ultimate intentions. Prior to arriving at the festival you knew that passing out literature in the festival--notwithstanding your right to do so--was going to be a contentious endeavor. So you guys made a mental calculation that even though it was obvious this was going to create problems at the festival, it was more important to accomplish your goal. What I attempted to convey is that just because something is legal it does not make it morally desirable nor neutral at best and as an adult you should know that.

In regards to the police, what an officer should do and what they must do can be, at times, two different things. In your case, officers trampled on your freedom of speech rights in order to avoid escalation. They put you through this trial ordeal probably to dissuade you from doing this in the future and therefore saving a lot of people future aggravation.

From a legal point of view they made the wrong choice, but if they had not, there was a possibility things would have turned violent in a place with a large number of people and we might be talking about people being in the hospital and not in jail.

I am not implying that you guys are the guilty party here. The police is partially guilty and the Arabic community that lashed out against you in the videos is also very guilty. I am just talking about your part in all of this. My question is why attempt to do something that you know is only going to taunt another group and create problems for everyone involved? Just because you have the legal right? What is the goal of all this?

stEdfuNk said...

excellent summary.

HISway said...

Would like to play all of your videos on our community access channel and would urge all concerned to use your public tv stations to aire these videos for free we can make the difference if we get activated the public at large needs to know what is really going on in America contact your local community access tv station and put these on the aire
Once you get the permission from acts 17 to do so

Grimwing said...

@David Wood:
"This wasn't a Muslim festival. It was an Arab Festival, open to the public." That just makes your implications even worse.

"Some would regard this as proof of your radical Islamic supremacist views." Well that's both ad hominem and straw man. He thinks what you did was stupid, that's not extremist.

Warwick said...

OK, so it's been over 2 years. How about an update? What's been happining with you guys? (and in Dearborn?)