DEARBORN (WWJ/AP) - The city of Dearborn has paid $100,000 in legal fees to attorneys for a Christian evangelist whose free-speech rights were violated at a popular Arab-American street festival.
Dearborn has a large Muslim population and one of the nation’s biggest concentrations of people with roots in the Arab world.The festival had offered George Saieg of Anaheim, Calif., a free booth in 2010, but city police in barred him and his allies from freely walking sidewalks with literature to convert Muslims to Christianity.Chief Ron Haddad said he was just controlling foot traffic, but a federal appeals court said the city violated the First Amendment.
The court says allowing the evangelists on the festival’s perimeter wasn’t good enough.As the prevailing party, Saieg was entitled to legal fees and other costs from Dearborn. His lawyers say the money was paid last week.
Recently in Michigan Category
"He was told the clinic's male Muslim clientele did not want a male treating female patients."
For a taxpayer-funded entity to comply with such a demand opens more than one nasty can of worms. First, there is the disturbing prospect of a state institution taking it upon itself to enforce and observe an Islamic separation of men and women. The practice also left the facility open to tremendous liability over the prospect of delayed or denied care on the basis of gender, recalling conditions under the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan.
If your medical care reminds someone of Afghanistan under the Taliban, it's probably safe to assume you're doing something wrong. "Male nurse sues after firing for treating Muslim women," by Robert Snell for Detroit News, November 23:
Detroit— A male nurse filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against the city of Dearborn on Wednesday, claiming he was fired for treating conservative Muslim women wearing head scarves.
John Benitez Jr. is suing for unspecified damages and to reclaim his job, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.
Benitez, 63, of Madison Heights, worked at the city's taxpayer-funded health clinic. He alleges he was ordered by a female supervisor not to treat conservative Muslim women, specifically those wearing head scarves, according to the lawsuit. He was told the clinic's male Muslim clientele did not want a male treating female patients.
He complied until November 2010, when a doctor ordered him to treat Muslim women as he would any other patient. Benitez followed the doctor's order and was fired less than one month later, according to the lawsuit.
"When you get to the point that taxpayer-funded entities are having to comply with personal religious beliefs rather than letting people do their job you're going down a road that does not end in a good place," the nurse's lawyer Deborah Gordon said in an interview Wednesday. "If people don't want to be treated, they can go find their own practitioner."
The city closed the clinic June 30 amid budget cuts.
A Dearborn spokeswoman declined comment.
Hospitals and health clinics routinely make accommodations based on religion, said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations.
In this case, the practices were enforced on women by outsiders (Muslim clinic clients and clinic supervisors), and done on the taxpayer dime.
"In general, unless it is for emergency situations, many Muslims would prefer being screened and touched by someone of the same gender," Walid said. "If he was fired based upon an order from a supervisor, that obviously would be unjust."
Reed S. Berry's ideological affiliation is never explicitly stated, but it is noteworthy that he was under 24-hour surveillance leading up to the 9/11 anniversary, and also reportedly barred from air travel. It could be a coincidence, but that's also quite the Sunnah beard he's sporting ("trim closely the moustache and grow [the] beard," Sahih Muslim 2.500). "Terror suspect accused of trying to hit FBI agent," by David N. Goodman for the Associated Press, October 2:
DETROIT -- A federal judge in Michigan has ordered a man suspected of supporting terrorist groups held on allegations he tried to crash into the car of an FBI agent who was following him as part of heightened security for the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Reed S. Berry, 26, of St. Joseph was under surveillance because of his suspected terrorist links, according to an FBI affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids.
The government has said the links include Internet communication with one or more groups involved in international terrorism.
Defense lawyer Elias Muawad said what the government has labeled terrorist links in court filings appear to be online speech protected by the First Amendment. He also said his client, Berry, has been upset about being under investigation for months, subject to searches and barred from air travel.
"He was feeling like a caged person," Muawad told The Associated Press on Sunday.
According to the Sept. 23 complaint that charged Berry with assaulting a federal officer, the FBI executed a search warrant March 9 seeking evidence linking Berry to foreign terrorist groups.
"The FBI investigation to date has developed information that Berry was using the Internet both to contact and to provide affirmative support to one or more FTOs," or foreign terrorist organizations, the complaint said.
The FBI then got a warrant May 11 to search Berry's Yahoo email account, and investigators now are reviewing its contents, the complaint said.
In anticipation of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, "the FBI decided to maintain around-the-clock knowledge of Berry's whereabouts that weekend," the complaint said.
FBI Special Agent Samuel Moore and Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Larry Dyksterhouse were watching Berry the night of Sept. 9 and had been told that their "target" was aware he was under surveillance, the complaint said.
The agents followed Berry as he drove around Benton Harbor and St. Joseph. They said he traveled to various locations and at one point turned his headlights off and just sat in the vehicle.
Moore said Berry eventually put his car in reverse and began speeding toward Moore's stopped vehicle. The agent said he "immediately accelerated forward and to the hard left, avoiding a direct collision" with Berry.
On Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Hugh Brenneman in Grand Rapids ordered Berry detained before the assault trial.
"In addition to the present offense, defendant is well aware the FBI is using considerable resources to investigate whether defendant has been participating in terrorist-related activities," Brenneman wrote in his order that Berry stay behind bars until trial.
Brenneman also cited the fact that Berry has a wife in London and "has told the FBI he wants to leave this country and never return." And, the judge said, Berry's state criminal record shows "a repeated disregard of the judicial system" with bond and parole revocations....
Also in this report is the interesting note that Faouzi Mohamad Ayoub "was recruited by Hizballah’s Canadian branch." Needless to say, Hizballah shouldn't have a "Canadian branch." "Feds unseal indictment against ex-Dearborn resident in alleged terror plot," from the Detroit Free Press, July 6 (thanks to Kenneth):
Federal prosecutors in Detroit have unsealed a two-year-old criminal indictment against a former Dearborn man who, they say, tried to use a phony U.S. passport to sneak into Israel in 2000 to carry out a bombing for Hizballah.
The indictment, handed down in August 2009, said Faouzi Mohamad Ayoub, 44, who also goes by the name Fawzi Ayoub, used a passport in the name of Frank Mariano Boschi to try to get into Israel. The U.S. State Department has designated Hizballah as a Lebanese terrorist group.
The indictment was unsealed Friday, two days after the FBI added the man’s name and photo to its most wanted terrorist list. There are 31 others on the list.
It’s unclear why Ayoub was added to the list so long after the 2000 incident, whether he was arrested in the episode and when and how long he lived in Dearborn.
There was no immediate comment from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit or the Detroit FBI field office, which is handling the case.
The Israeli government reported that its forces arrested Ayoub in June 2002 during a raid in the West Bank city of Hebron. The Israelis said he was a senior Hizballah fighter who took part in Hizballah attacks on civilians. Ayoub denied the charges.
The government said he was born in Lebanon, immigrated to Canada and was recruited by Hizballah’s Canadian branch.
Canadian news outlets reported after his arrest that he had entered Canada in 1988 and became a citizen in the 1990s. They said he and relatives lived in Toronto.
In 2004, the Israeli government swapped Ayoub and 435 other prisoners in exchange with Hizballah for an Israeli businessman and the bodies of three solders killed in October 2000 while on patrol in northern Israel. Ayoub’s wife and son greeted him at the airport in Beirut, the news reports said.
Ayoub’s current whereabouts are unknown.
The message Dearborn authorities are sending? Intimidation through the threat of violence works. In this case, even the ACLU is having none of it, and has argued for Jones' constitutional protections under the First Amendment to be acknowledged and upheld.
Making exceptions against the right of free speech sets a disastrous precedent, which one may fully expect Islamic groups in America to manipulate in the future. An update on this story. "Detroit mosque protest barred by court," by Bernie Woodall for Reuters, April 22 (thanks to JCB):
DEARBORN, Michigan (Reuters) – A controversial Florida pastor was briefly jailed and released on Friday after a Michigan court determined that his planned protest outside a mosque was likely to provoke violence and ordered him to stay away.
Terry Jones, 59, was sent to county jail after he declined to pay a $1 bond as ordered by Judge Mark Somers, who also ordered him to stay away from the Islamic Center of America for three years.
But about an hour later, police said Jones and a supporter, Wayne Sapp, were released from custody after the token $1 bond was paid.
Both Jones and Sapp were had initially refusing to meet the terms of a "peace bond" set by Somers in protest.
A six-person jury in the Dearborn, Michigan court ruled earlier on Friday that their planned protest outside the largest mosque in the United States was "likely to breech [sic] the peace" in a suburb of Detroit with a large Muslim American population.
The one-day jury trial on the planned protest by Jones was streamed live on the Internet and attracted widespread notice for pitting free speech on a highly charged issue against concerns about public safety.
Jones, 59, is the leader of a tiny, fringe fundamentalist church in Gainesville, Florida, who has an unknown until he courted publicity and controversy by burning the Koran as part of what he describes as a campaign against "radical Islam."
The American Civil Liberties Union petitioned unsuccessfully for the case against Jones to be thrown out.
An ACLU spokeswoman said Dearborn officials had violated free speech protections of the Constitution and given more publicity to a divisive and fringe figure by trying to bar his protest.
"We vehemently disagree with Mr. Jones and his cohorts. However, this is a complete abuse of the court process and all those involved should be ashamed," said ACLU spokeswoman Rana Elmir.
She added: "I believe that Rev. Jones came to Dearborn for his 15 minutes of fame and the judge and prosecutors have now effectively given him hours of that."
The Qur'an burning initially passed very quietly in the U.S., and would be forgotten as old news by now except for the murderous rampages that then erupted in the Islamic world (no thanks to Afghan president Hamid Karzai), which, once again, burned far more Qur'ans than Jones and Sapp.
Jones had asked for a permit to stage a protest on Good Friday on public land across from the mosque.
City officials said the mosque and four nearby churches were expected to be crowded with several thousand worshipers at that time.
Dearborn police had denied Jones's request and asked him to protest instead in a "free speech zone" in front of one of the city buildings.
But Jones, who represented himself in court on Friday, argued that violated his free speech rights.
"The First Amendment is only valid if it allows us to say what other people may not like," Jones told jurors. "Otherwise, we do not need the First Amendment."
Police had estimated that it would cost over $46,000 to protect Jones and a handful of supporters from violence if they had protested outside the mosque.
Prosecutors had asked for bond for both Jones and Sapp to be set at $25,000.
Speaking of bad precedents:
Somers said he would consider lifting his three-year ban on visits to the mosque and nearby property by Jones and Sapp if the leaders of the Dearborn mosque asked him to do so in the future...
The facts of this case smack of sheer opportunism, and in this case, the judge saw through it. "Dearborn Heights woman told to remove hijab loses court case," by Paul Egan for the Detroit News, April 29 (thanks to all who sent this in):
Detroit -- A federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit against a Wayne County judge accused of telling a woman to remove her Islamic head scarf.
U.S. District Judge Marianne O. Battani ruled there was no evidence Wayne Circuit Judge J. William Callahan knew Raneen Albaghdady's head covering had religious significance when he asked her to remove it during a name change petition last June.
"Albaghdady never protested removal of her head piece, she never informed defendant that her 'hat' was a hijab, and most critically, when asked to remove it, said, 'OK. It doesn't matter,'" Battani said in an 11-page opinion dismissing the lawsuit brought by the woman and the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Michigan.
"There simply is no evidence that Callahan would have required the removal of a head covering if he had known of its religious significance."
Albaghdady of Dearborn Heights said in an affidavit she acquiesced because she was "terrified and scared," but Battani, who reviewed a videotape of the court proceeding, said "her demeanor in court does not comport with her assessment of her feelings."...
War is deceit update: "ID thief gets 78 months: The Moroccan national's testimony helped derail federal terror prosecution," from The Detroit News, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist:
DETROIT -- Youssef Hmimssa, an expert identity thief who lied in connection with terrorism-related charges against four immigrants, was sentenced Thursday to 78 months in federal prison for a dozen felonies.
The Moroccan national said nothing and showed no emotion as U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen ordered him to serve the maximum term allowed under a plea agreement reached between Hmimssa and federal prosecutors.
"It's obvious to the court that you and the truth are complete strangers to each other," Rosen told Hmimssa before handing down his sentence. "I believe, sir, you are a pathological liar."
It brought to a close the four-year saga of a mysterious computer whiz who traveled to North Africa, Europe and the American Midwest using a passel of aliases and phony IDs drifting from scam to scam.
Hmimssa, 34, was the key witness for the U.S. government in its case against four men charged in Detroit with supporting terrorism. The 2003 trial was the first post-September 11 terror trial in the nation and resulted in a pair of convictions that were later overturned when prosecutors conceded the case was fraught with errors, including unreliable testimony from Hmimssa.
Under the agreement with prosecutors, Hmimssa pleaded guilty to 11 theft-related felonies....
Hmimssa faces deportation after he's released.
From the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Service (ACCESS) (scroll down), with thanks to EPG:
ACCESS applauds the Dearborn City Council for passing a resolution on December 7, 2004, opposing the Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal (CLEAR) Act. The CLEAR Act mandates that local law enforcement officers enforce federal immigration laws. The Act was introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.
The Dearborn City Council expressed concern in the resolution that the Act would burden already hard-working police departments and threatens to destroy the positive relationships that the Dearborn Police Department has developed within the diverse community. The resolution stated that "trust is a big factor in our effectiveness to protect all of our residents. This act would compromise that trust."
Council President Jack O'Reilly said that this resolution supports Mayor Michael A. Guido's position against legislation like the CLEAR Act. Mayor Guido came out with a press release on April 22, 2003, clearly stating his opposition to the CLEAR Act, for it was an infringement upon civil rights, and could put a great burden on the police department and city operations.
Is it really a matter of trust to agree not to enforce federal laws? Is it really a civil rights issue to flout federal laws?
Here is another issue that has been clouded by talk of pluralism and religious freedom. That's all very well; but pluralism and religious freedom are generally not allowed to non-Muslims in the countries from which the Hamtramck Muslims came to Michigan. Nor are they allowed under Islamic law. What demands will be made next upon the non-Muslims of Hamtramck?
Also note: the Muslims there weren't going to respect the vote anyway. From AP, with thanks to KR Ingalls:
HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (AP) -- Residents agreed Tuesday to include the Islamic call to prayer in the city's noise ordinance, a victory for those in favor of allowing mosques to issue the call to prayer over loudspeakers.
Those in favor of allowing the broadcasts won the vote 1,462 to 1,200, or 55 percent to 45 percent, with all precincts reporting and all absentee ballots counted.
Opponents and backers of the measure acknowledged that the vote was merely symbolic. The ballot measure would not have stopped the amplified call to prayer; it would merely have repealed an amendment to the city's existing noise ordinance. The amendment regulates the volume and timing of the call. City officials have said there would be nothing to prohibit the broadcasting of the call to prayer itself.
"Now we truly have approval from the residents of the city," said Abdul Motlib, head of the al-Islah mosque, who joined others Tuesday night at city hall to await the results of the vote. "It's a long time we are waiting for this."
The City Council unanimously passed the amendment in April after a local mosque asked for permission to begin broadcasting the Arabic chants, traditionally issued five times a day.
The council's action provoked an outcry among some longtime residents of Hamtramck, a once predominately-Polish city of 23,000 people that is surrounded by Detroit. In recent years, the city has seen a rapid influx of immigrants from Bangladesh, Yemen and other countries.
City Council president Karen Majewski has said that repealing the amendment would have left the city powerless to regulate the calls, but would not allow officials to stop them. Nothing in the current noise ordinance bans the practice, she says.
The al-Islah mosque began the call to prayer in May. Masud Khan, secretary of the mosque, said the broadcasts would have continued whatever the outcome of Tuesday's vote. At least one other Hamtramck mosque also has begun the broadcasts via loudspeakers since May.
The Islamist movement in the United States has no intention of expressing sensitivity to the majority Judeo-Christian culture of America. Even 9/11 has not slowed them down, but might even have given more fuel to their cherished dream of seeing America and its government Moslem.
The City Council of Hamtramck, Michigan, gave its preliminary approval to the Bangladeshi al-Islah mosque to carry the Arabic call to prayer five times a day through a loudspeaker. The Moslem call for prayer, in Arabic, says: "Allah is great. I confess that there is no God but Allah. I confess that Mohamed is his messenger. Call for prayer, call for prayer." This is repeated for two minutes.
Devout Moslems already know when it is time to pray and in this day and age there are certainly other ways to call people for prayers that conforms to noise regulation and respects the wish of the general public not to hear loudspeakers 5 times a day praising a God that is different from theirs and in whose name the terrorists of 9/11 committed their atrocity. How far are we Arab/Moslem Americans going to keep pushing the envelope to test America's patience? To whose benefit these loudspeakers are being installed? Could the loudspeakers be another sign of an audacious, in-your-face conquest of America to please those who finance these mosques?
Americans are the most tolerant people in the world and it seems that the more tolerant they become, the more they are taken advantage of. How far will our tolerant Judeo-Christian culture be pushed around? And how many times will Christians give the other cheek to prove they love those who despise them?
Arab/Moslem Americans should reciprocate the tolerance and sensitivity to the rest of America. They should not demand from America to tolerate unwelcome loudspeakers even if the politicians in the city council want to please the Arab population for their vote. Mosques in the US should know better because in most Moslem countries, Jewish synagogues and Christian churches are not even permitted to be built, much less promoted via public-address loudspeakers.
At a time when American youth are dying to stabilize Iraq and bring democracy to a Moslem country, the last thing I want to see as an Arab American is my fellow Americans upset at us for forcing Koran read to them through amplifiers.
Mosques all over the Middle East have used and abused loudspeakers to spread not only the call for prayers, but also Friday sermons. In many Arab capitals you can often hear a prayer to destroy the infidels (non-Moslems) and the Jews, the enemies of God, over loudspeakers that are often used as tools of incitement and indoctrination. People in congested and noisy Arab cities such as Cairo often hear 3 or 4 mosque loudspeakers simultaneously since there could be 4 or more mosques in one square mile. The dawn prayer can come as early as 5 am and many Moslems in the Middle East hate it, but are too afraid to say anything about it.
Why is America importing fear, oppression and insensitivity to the American general public? There is a fine line between tolerance and self destruction.
Imad Hamad of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) wanted the Crestwood Board of Education in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, to make Eid (Eid ul-Fitr, the Muslim holy day marking the end of Ramadan) a day off from school.
So Hamad wrote in a letter to school board president Ron Panetta: "We are urging you to thoroughly review this matter, and consider the various concerns, before making an ultimate decision. Rushing into decisions that involve such sensitive issues might bring serious ramifications and unexpected unhealthy consequences." (Thanks to Agent Azure.)
Serious ramifications? Unexpected unhealthy consequences? Panetta thought he was being threatened; Hamad denies that the letter meant anything more than "an effort to alert the district of the wrong message that might come across to the community if this matter were to become more political, rather than educational in nature."
All right. Maybe that's all Hamad meant, although if so his choice of words was outrageously undiplomatic and imprudent. But even if that is all he meant, why the strong-arming and threats of political agitation over a school holiday? I don't believe that Good Friday or Yom Kippur are generally public school holidays. Why should Eid ul-Fitr be any different? Why is equality for minorities so often confused with special treatment for minorities?
By insisting on what amounts to preferential treatment for Muslims and the subservient dhimmitude of the larger community, Imad Hamad and the ADC are perpetuating the need for themselves: the strong-arming, whether it involves physical threats or not, will lead to resentment, which will lead to the perceived need for an advocacy group. The ADC would do all Muslims in America a favor by dropping this kind of bullying from its tactic sheet.
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