“Christian? Missionaries?” Bring Message of Hatred to Arab Festival - updated 5/20/13

Sheila Musaji

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“Christian? Missionaries?” Bring Message of Hatred to Arab Festival

by Sheila Musaji

The Arab International Festival in Dearborn is the largest public gathering of Arab Americans and goes on for three days each year for the past 17 years.  Tens of thousands of people attend the festival from all over the country, and those numbers include many who are not Arabs or Muslims, but come for the food, rides, music, and family fun.  In the Dearborn/Detroit area these visitors provide a much needed economic boost.

At the recent Arab International Festival in Dearborn, once again a group of “Christians” calling themselves “Bible Believers” showed up to antagonize and harrass the attendees.  At least some of those involved were attached to Acts 17 Apologetics as their Answering Muslims blog was looking for donations for tracts to hand out at the Festival a couple of weeks ago.  David Wood posted a picture of himself at the Festival on the Answering Muslims blog.  There does seem to have been more than one group involved, and some were peaceful, and not aggressive like the “Bible Believers”.  The “Christian” protestors did not have a permit but were allowed to remain in a “free speech area”.

You can see a video about the protestors by a local television news station here.  They name the protest organizer as Ruben Israel.  I tried to find information about him, but only found a number of videos he has made which are anti-Muslim, anti-Gay, anti-Mormon, anti-Catholic, etc.  Someone has collected a list of references to Ruben Israel here and it seems that he also heads something called “Street Preachers” who engage in agressive preaching against just about everyone who isn’t exactly like themselves.  Dearborn Patch also identifies him as the leader of the “Bible Believers”. 

Some of the signs these “Christian missionaries” held read: “Islam is a religion of blood and murder” and “Muhammad (Islam’s prophet) is a ... liar, false prophet, murderer, child molesting pervert.”  One of the group carried a pig’s head on a stick.  All of this aggressive group were large middle aged men.  One fellow wore a keffiyeh and carried a Bible and attempted to start conversations with attendees.  Some of them shouted and screamed things like “You’re gonna burn in hell you little dirtbags”.  “You’re a bunch of sick animals on the way to hell.”  They waived their signs and shouted at the attendees.  You can hear some of the worst of these shouted insults here.  They had to shout and scream their hateful messages because authorities asked them not to use the megaphones they brought with them.  It doesn’t seem that peacefully sharing the message of Christianity would require megaphones, or dead pig’s heads for that matter.

A missionary is someone who attempts to persuade others or convert others to their particular belief.  This sort of behavior is certainly not persuasive, and like the antics of Rev. Terry Jones, or Rev. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, can only be a source of embarrassment for actual Christians.  Insulting and antagonizing people might be called a lot of things, but calling this sort of aggressive and hostile behavior “Christian” or a “missionary” activity is simply ludicrous.

Detroit News reports Dearborn resident Mohamed Moussa, 27, walked through the festival to send his own message of peace. He carried several signs, including one stating,

“I love Jesus because I’m Muslim.” He said he noticed the tension between Christians and Muslims and wanted to end the bigotry.  “I’m going to tell them ‘You don’t have to hate my prophet if you don’t believe in him,’” said Moussa. “If you want to come to me in wisdom and tell me about your religion, I’ll accept wisdom, but I cannot accept hate.”

ABC News reports that Violence eventually broke out between festival goers and protesters, prompting Dearborn police to arrest a protestor they claim incited the violence.  Some protesters say that they were attacked first.  “And they [police] arrest one of our guys. I don’t know if they know what they’re doing,” protest organizer Ruben Israel said. “When we go back and report what happened, next year there could be a hundred of us out here.”

These folks antagonized, provoked, verbally assaulted, and bullied people for two hours before leaving.  Amazingly, although there were thousands and thousands of people in attendance (estimates were approximately 10,000 attendees that day), only a few teenagers were sufficiently provoked to throw water bottles and litter at them, and one grown man was provoked enough to lose his temper verbally.

Garibaldi of Loonwatch asked the same question that I have, why?  “Reading today about the behavior of the fanatical Christian missionary zealots who showed up to provoke crowds for the fourth year in a row at an Arab Internationl Festival in Dearborn, Michigan got me thinking. What was their purpose? Why did they take such an uber-aggressive and hostile stance against festival-goers whom they perceive to be all Muslims, even though there are PLENTY of Arab Christians?  ...  These aren’t “martyr-seekers,” they don’t even much care for converts I suspect; instead I believe they are motivated by a deep seated xenophobia and racism, just like their forebears used to angrily attack Blacks in the South, now they have set their sights on Muslims.”

Imagine a group of crazies going to the Jewish music and culture festival in Syracuse, or the Jewish Festival in Boulder, or the St. Louis Greek Orthodox Festival waving hateful anti-Jewish or anti-Greek Orthodox signs, shouting profanities and insults at the attendees and carrying the head of any dead animal on a stick.  Why not try the Puerto Rican street fair in East Harlem, or any of thousands of other ethnic and cultural events across the country, and see what sort of a reaction you might be able to provoke with such behavior.

I wish that everyone had had the ability to ignore the provocation.  It is a shame that a few young people were not able to do so.  The Bible Believers group came with the intention of provoking people and achieved their goal.  They were there to attempt to incite a response.  They will now use the response to their provocation and incitement as their “proof” that Arabs and Muslims are violent.

I believe that such behavior might provoke some negative response anywhere.  And, I am amazed that the Arab Festival attendees so overwhelmingly were able to allow these thugs to spew their venom without responding in kind.  The only sort of event where individuals could engage in such provocative behavior and not provoke some sort of response might be an Amish or Quaker event.

These folks caused all of this trouble during the first two days of the Arab Festival, on Sunday they went to protest at a gay pride event in Ohio.

As Jeffrey Wright of the Arab American Institute wrote

The real story of the festival should have been its positive impact on the local economy, not the antics of a tiny band of protesters. According to study conducted by Prof. Daniel Stynes on behalf of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, the festival has an economic impact of about $7 million and supports more than 45 jobs in Dearborn. Of the 300,000 visitors the festival typically attracts, the study estimates that 90,000, or 30%, come from outside the Detroit metro area, bringing with them revenue for hotels, restaurants and other local businesses. For a region still not fully recovered from the effects of the recession, this is a much-needed infusion. Though the protesters’ pig’s head received much of the attention, the festival’s economic impact is its real contribution to Dearborn.

The challenge for Arab Americans and American Muslims attending the festival was to resist reacting to the protesters’ provocations. As Mark Twain said: “Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.” For the most part, the protesters were ignored, but a fight broke out on Friday evening between protesters and festival-goers, resulting in a number of arrests on both sides for disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. This incident aside, the festival provided fun, food and a celebration of Arab American culture. The intolerance, violence and imminent doom of the protesters’ imaginations never materialized.

UPDATE 6/27/2012

Pamela Geller has been busy, so it took her over a week to weigh in on this story.  We knew that she and her partner Robert Spencer would weigh in, as their “love” for Muslims is legendary.  For Geller and Spencer there is no story that has even the remotest possibility of being used to “prove” the “otherness” of Muslims that will slip by their eagle eyes.  As usual, her take on this is wrong.  She posted “Allahu Akbar”: American Muslims Stone, Pelt Christians in Dearborn, Michigan, Police do nothing, threaten non-Muslims with arrest which is basically just David Wood’s slanted article with a couple of Geller comments.  Geller looks at the same videos mentioned above and introduces them as Here is the news report of American Muslims attacking peaceful Christians at an Arab [Muslim] Festival in Dearborn this past Father’s day weekend. and she introduces Wood’s article with the words This from our man, David Wood, in Dearborn. The Muslim war on non-believers in America takes to the streets. Low grade civil war. 

Geller includes videos, but carefully selected, nothing showing the provocation and incitement that finally led to problems.  Certainly, she didn’t include this video where you can hear some of the worst of these shouted insults here.

A few teenagers were provoked into throwing a couple of water bottles by a gang of thugs calling themselves Christians, and this is a “Muslim war on non-believers”?

Even David Wood seems embarrassed by the behavior of the “Bible Believers” and attempts to distance himself and his group from them.  In his article he says

There’s no questioning the fact that Ruben Israel’s group came to the Dearborn Arab Festival to provoke a response from Muslims. But their actions were protected by the U.S. Constitution. The violent response they received from Muslims, however, was illegal. Every bottle, rock, or milk crate thrown was an assault.

Yes, they have freedom of speech, but that doesn’t make what the Bible Believers did a moral or defensible act.  The Westboro Baptist Church is protected by the Constitutional right of freedom of speech in their demonstrations at military funerals, but that doesn’t make those demonstrations right, they are reprehensible acts, and certainly not examples of “Christian” behavior.  Because you have the right to do something doesn’t mean that it is the right thing to do. 

Geller also says the police threaten the Christians, telling them to leave or they “will cite you for disorder.”  Their presence is inciting the Muslims. Got that?  A civil rights lawsuit must be filed agaisnt Dearborn police department. ASAP.  This is sharia law in America.

Their presence didn’t incite anyone.  No one bothered the peaceful Christian group who were simply handing out tracts.  This bunch of tough looking men incited a bunch of kids by their words, actions, and intimidating and aggressive tactics. 

Her partner in the hate group SIOA, Robert Spencer, of course followed her lead and posted the same article.  And, Jamie Glazov at Front Page magazine added his two cents worth. 

Here are a few of the comments under the Front Page article

—It is time to re-evaluate the presense of muslims in America. They settle in an area like Dearborn and as their population grows the edges of the muslim community expand - woe befall any non-muslims who are absorbed in this settlement for they will eventually all be driven out! Muslims are not in America to become Americans - they are here as settlers! The only solution is to stop all muslim immigration, to close mosques (they are military centers), and firmly prosecute and deport all transgressors.
— The cops who admonished the Christians, and gave the Mooze a pass, their names should be published on the Internet, and they should be hounded mercilessly for the rest of their lives, as traitors.

And, a few from Spencer’s article

— If Muslims are less than one percent of the population of the U.S., imagine the proportional level of intolerance and aggression with their increase. I may just have to bite the bullet and be in full support of deportation, with its risks and all; and that would be in full support of the deportation of every single Muslim.  Islam has no place in a free society. If people choose to identify themselves as “Muslim” and practice their vile “religion,” they can do so elswhere. The United States is a free country; fascists and their fascism are not welcome!
— If enough Americans don’t wake up to demand that Islam be banned altogether - the future for America looks very violent.  Personally, I blame the leaders of this nation for not upholding the U.S. Constitution. If there is any Blessing at all for America in the future - it will be new leaders who see the wisdom of such a Document and will move to uphold it no mtter what the multi-culturalists say or do. In fact - deport them also.
— AS, don’t forget that we can legally own as many long guns as we wish, and needn’t register them any longer thanks to the scrapping of the long-gun registry. Personally, I’d like to try out a Winchester…..they seem pretty reliable and easy to reload. Cheers.
— “..demand that Islam be banned altogether.”
A total ban is the only answer. It is like a poisonous weed in a garden. It has to be removed completely otherwise it will just grow back and destroy the garden. There are logical and legal reasons for banning Islam. A system whose declared intent is to destroy democracy must not be tolerated. It could indeed be banned. All that is required is for our politicians to remove their heads from a certain dark place.

And, a few from Geller’s article

— I saw this video yesterday, and posted about it, too. I am BEYOND angry. While I’m not thrilled with these guys’ tactics, the resulting violence against them is despicable. Any muzzie that can’t get it together and assimilate FULLY into OUR culture, I want OUT of this country. I’m fed up. WAY fed up. This was the video that put it over the top for me. It’s time to start getting the savages out of here. And sorry - there is no way for me separate islam from muslims anymore. They are their ideology. It’s all the same, and they are violent. Bottom line.  Further, I’m ready to pull together a group of about 20,000 freedom-loving Americans to show up at that festival next year. The savages want to throw garbage, concrete, urine, bottles and all the rest? Lets see what happens when we start playin’ cowboys and muslims.
— Dearborn will suffer greatly! They have NOT even begone to see the backlash of this! SHAME on you Major and your disfunctional police dept. You put your hand on a christian bible and swore to service, protect and uphold! You did neither and your FIRED! I would love to see that! UNREAL! Dearborn you better get your set belt on because the ride you’ll be taking is going to be more than bumpy. All these videos have gone viral! You guys look very bad and without american support, basically your going to hell in a hand basket!Enjoy your ride.

And, here is a statement from an article by Jerry Philipson in the Canada Free Press

Attacking and trying to eliminate Americans right to free speech and freedom of expression is about as anti-American as it is possible to get and is an attack on America itself. The Muslims who attacked the Christians in Dearborn may call themselves American but they are American in name only and in fact are no more American than Muslims in other parts of the United States who cannot countenance free speech and freedom of expression either.

American they are not. What they really are are Islamists who would like to turn the U.S. into an Islamic country governed by Islamic law. What they really are is an extremely serious threat to freedom and democracy in the United States, to the existence of the United States as a free, democratic, secular, pluralistic nation. What they really are is the enemy within.

The Islamization of the United States is well and truly underway and it is long past time for Americans as a whole to wake up and excise this cancer in their midst while they still can.

We can only pray that such views are only those of a very small minority of our fellow citizens.

UPDATE 6/29/2012

Alan Noble has posted an article Muslims Stoning Christians in Michigan? Not quite… which responds to this attempt by the Islamophobes to alter what actually happened in order to make it fit their world view.  He says

Earlier this year I wrote a excruciatingly detailed feature article describing how Wretched TV had deceptively edited footage of some Christian streetpreachers at the Arabfest in Dearborn Michigan in order to portray the Muslims in attendance as violent, bloodthirsty foreigners. I pointed out that the “Christian” preachers were led by Ruban Israel, a notorious street preacher (who was and is not supported by or connected to Wretched TV) who went to the festival specifically to agitate and incite the Muslims. If you look at unedited footage of the event, it’s clear that the “Christians” were inciting Muslims to hate, which, of course, never justifies violence, but it does explain why it happens.

I bring this up because it’s happened again. Ruben Israel returned this year to the Arab Festival and once again incited the festival goers to scream and yell and throw trash. Although Wretched TV did not report the story this year, it was picked up by The Blaze, American Vision, American Thinker, FrontPage Magazine, and other, smaller conservative websites.

Each of these reports has included and cited a YouTube video edited by The United West, a group “dedicated to defending and advancing Western Civilization against the kinetic and cultural onslaught of Shariah Islam.” Good journalism would demand that these sites check their source and consider possible biases, but, for whatever reason, these conservative news sites report on the event as if it the video was an accurate representation of what occurred. But it was not. Not at all. Here’s United West’s video:

I wish I had the time and energy to point out every deceptive edit in this video and all the manipulative ways in which this event was reported on, but I don’t. So here’s a short list, and if you’re interested in seeing more, watch the unedited, hour long YouTube video of the incident. Watch carefully. It looks a lot different if you’re paying attention.

1. The United West video (See here) and many of the reports on this incident either claim or insinuate that the police did nothing to stop the kids from throwing trash at Ruben and his friends.

However, in the unedited video, you can see the police interviene once, twice (note the police dragging a kid off at this point–something none of the articles mention), thrice, fourse [sic] (note that this appears to be another arrest or citation? Again, never mentioned in any of the reports I listed), and I’m not going to bother looking for more examples.

Bottom line: the video lies/misrepresents the truth and each of these reports, either in ignorance (in which case they are examples of bad journalism) or knowingly repeats this lie or fails to challenge it (in the case of The Blaze).

2. Muslim adults repeatedly work to calm down and stop the kids from yelling and throwing trash. In fact, one, apparently, Muslim man stands in front of the Christians, protecting them from the angry crowd. Does this mean Islam is a religion of peace? Nope, it just means that this man (as well as many others in the video) wanted to prevent violence from happening. Does the fact that the “mob” of kids threw trash and possibly a piece of concrete mean that Islam is a religion of violence? Nope, it just means that some kids got offended and angry.

If we want to discuss whether or not Islam is inherently violent, we need to look for evidence elsewhere.

3. The video edits out the part where Ruben Israel explains to a police officer that they have a pig head on a pole because Muslims are “petrified” of pigs and so it “keeps them at bay.” No really. He says that. Can you understand now why a group of Arab kids might feel threatened by these predominately white, Christians coming to their cultural festival to shout at them that they are going to hell and that their religion is a lie? Get a bunch of kids together, mock their beliefs, try to ward them away with a pig head on a stick, yell at them, and no matter what religion they are, don’t be surprised if they start throwing trash. That doesn’t in any way justify their action, but it does explain it.

4. As you watch the video it is clear that the police helped protect the Christians when they could. Could they have done a better job? Perhaps. It’s not clear from the video how many people were in attendance (I believe it was around 100k) or how many officers were available to help out. But it is clear that those officers did in fact intervene and protect the Christians several times.

5. It is also clear that this group of Christians was almost entirely focused on angering these Muslims, forcing the police to protect them after they had incited violence, and complaining over and over again about their rights and how they were being persecuted. What on earth does this have to do with lovingly sharing the Gospel to lost people? How is a preoccupation with asserting your rights honoring to God?

6. Nine days before they posted their very popular article describing the “alleged” “stoning” of Christians, The Blaze published this account of the incident: SCREAMING ANTI-ISLAM PROTESTERS TAUNT MUSLIMS WITH PIG’S HEAD: ‘YOU’RE GOING TO MELT IN THE FIRES OF HELL!’ In this article, by Billy Hallowell, we read that “Authorities in Wayne County attempted to keep calm and order between the two parties, as they tried to separate them — a difficult task considering the religious nature of the fighting at hand.” And that “Some of the attendees chanted ‘Allah-U-Akbar,’ which translates to ‘God is the greatest.’ The Christians responded with, ‘Jesus Akbar.’”

But when they post their second article, by Mytheos Holt, over a week later, here’s the title: ‘ALLAHU AKBAR’: SHOCK VIDEO SHOWS MUSLIMS ALLEGEDLY ‘STONING’ CHRISTIAN PROTESTERS IN…MICHIGAN.  We read nothing about the authorities stepping in to separate these groups. We hardly read anything about the hateful message that Israel’s group was spreading. And we don’t hear about how the Christians were responding to “Allah-U-Akbar” with “Jesus Akbar.”

What happend? How did The Blaze forget about Hallowell’s article? How did they publish an article and a video that misrepresent an incident that they reported on accurately nine days previous? And, even more perplexing, how did they miss all this when there is a huge link to Hallowell’s article at the beginning of Holt’s?

As of my writing this at 2 am, Holt’s article has been shared 7,600 times on Facebook. Hallowell’s? 650. Think about that. An article reportedly showing violent Muslims attacking Christians got shared over ten times as much as an article reportedly showing a group of Christians preaching hate.

To make matters worse, look at the editorial commentary at the beginning of Holt’s piece: “The conservative preoccupation with presenting Sharia law as a threat to the United States’ culture as well as its national security has long been an unwarranted source of liberal derision. They may want to rethink their attitude after this story.”

Here’s why this matters, folks. Deception and/or sloppy journalism like this is used to justify bad political policies. Don’t believe the spin. Watch for yourself.

Let me leave you with the thoughts of one Muslim who was deeply offended by these “Christians” and called them out on what he felt was their real intentions: provoking Muslims to violence so that they can use it as evidence of the inherent violence of Islam. By the way, this guy appears in The United West’s edited video, but, conspicuously, the following comments don’t make the cut: Unedited video (warning, STRONG language).

Also See: Beyond Wretched: Wretched TV, Deception, and “Violent” Muslims

Update 06-28-12

UPDATE 5/16/2013

David Yerushalmi and his American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) brought a lawsuit against against Wayne County, the Wayne County Sheriff, and two Wayne County Deputy Chiefs, on behalf of the “Bible believers” alleging authorities refused to protect the Christians while threatening to arrest them.  The Arab American News reports[url]:

...  In court last week, Ayad argued that the evangelist group’s allegations against the Sheriff’s Department were unjustifiable; stating that the department allowed the group to express their freedom of speech, up until they had provoked excessive disorderly conduct. Ayad also reminded the court that the law does not require private security for any kind of protesters.__On May 14, Judge Duggan filed an order, granting the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case. Additionally, the Judge ruled that the plaintiffs’ request, demanding special security at the festival was moot and further ordered that the plaintiffs’ motion to dismiss and cross-motion the original motion would be denied as well.__The defendants had submitted a video to the Court, as evidence of what had occurred at the festival. An edited version of the video had already been uploaded on YouTube by the evangelist group. That video, which had depicted local Arab and Muslim Americans as “uncivilized barbarians,” who were attacking Christians, went viral, attracting approximately 2 million views. However, the unedited version of the video helped to support the defense’s argument in Federal Court.__The document filed by the Judge reads, “on the basis of the unedited video recording, submitted by the defendants, the Court agrees with the defendants’ position and finds that the intervention in this case was justified on public safety grounds.” The document also stated that, “the Court finds that the actual demonstration of violence here provided the requisite justification for defendants’ intervention, even if the officials acted as they did because of the effect the speech had on the crowd.”__As of press time, it remains unknown if the Bible Believers still plan on attending the 2013 Arab Festival without the extra security that they had requested.__This year’s event has been moved from its usual location on Warren Avenue, to the gated area of Ford Woods Park, on the corner of Ford Road and Greenfield Road. The event will run from June 14-16 and, in an effort to limit tension and control crowds, the City of Dearborn may charge an admission fee.

__In a separate case also brought by the AFLC on behalf of David Wood’s of Act 17 Apologetics who were arrested at the 2010 Arab Festival.  Wood’s group was found to be within their rights, and the Christian News Network [url=http://christiannews.net/2013/05/07/michigan-city-regrets-and-apologizes-for-arresting-christians-evangelizing-muslims-at-arab-festival/]reports that: “The City of Dearborn, Michigan has issued an apology as part of a settlement reached between city officials and three Christians who were arrested in 2010 while engaging in evangelistic activity at a local festival attended by many Muslims.”

UPDATE 5/20/2013

Niraj Warikoo reports Arab International Festival in Dearborn is canceled in wake of religious tensions:

...  After growing religious tensions between some Christian missionaries and local Muslims, the annual Arab International Festival in Dearborn has been canceled for this year, organizers said Friday.  ...  The city and organizers were facing increased insurance and liability costs because of the tensions and lawsuits over the festival. Last month, the City of Dearborn had proposed moving the festival to a park instead of the traditional location on Warren Avenue in order to decrease conflict.

But Fay Baydoun, director of the American-Arab Chamber of Commerce, said Friday that it would have been impossible to organize a successful event in time at the new location. Baydoun said she hopes that next year’s festival will “come back better and stronger.” ...  Local Arab Americans were upset over the cancellation of the festival because the original intent of it was to highlight Arab-American businesses, which helped turn east Dearborn from a ghost town into a thriving commercial destination, said local leaders.

...  There was concern that this year’s festival could become even more tense.  Quran-burning Pastor Terry Jones said he was planning to attend the first day along with the California man who brought the pig’s head last year. In 2011, Jones attempted to attend the festival, but was met by angry protesters who tried to block him as he walked. Police then asked him to not attend.


Anti-Islam Protest at Arab International Festival Results in Disorderly Conduct Charges http://dearborn.patch.com/articles/protestors-seek-to-disrupt-arab-international-festival#photo-10336251

Christian missionary group with pig’s head taunt Arab-Americans at Dearborn festival http://www.freep.com/article/20120616/NEWS05/120616015/Christian-missionaries-with-pig-s-head-taunt-Arab-Americans-at-Dearborn-festival?odyssey=nav%7Chead

Christian protestors taunt Arab-Americans with pig’s head on a stake at Detroit festival http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2160889/Christian-protestors-taunt-Arab-Americans-pigs-head-stake-Detroit-festival.html#ixzz1yA6CB2AR

Christian Taunts and Violence Mar Arab Festival in Michigan http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/06/christian-taunts-and-violence-mar-arab-festival-in-michigan/

Exposing David Wood: Of Mosques and Men, Pt. 1 http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/06/exposing-david-wood-of-mosques-and-men-pt-1/

Screaming Anti-Islam Protesters Taunt Muslims With Pig’s Head: ‘You’re Going to Melt in the Fires of Hell!’  http://www.theblaze.com/stories/screaming-anti-islam-protesters-taunt-muslims-with-pigs-head-youre-going-to-melt-in-the-fires-of-hell/

Originally published 6/16/2012