By Jack Minor
In a scene that is been described as something from the streets of Iran, four Christians were arrested at a public Arab Festival in Michigan to cheers of “Allahu Akbar.”
Robert Muise, Senior Trial Counsel for the Thomas Moore Law Center, representing the four individuals told the Gazette that the entire event was videotaped and the police have confiscated all of the footage which when released will confirm that the four were doing nothing wrong at the festival.
On June 18 David Wood, Nabeel Qureshi, Paul Rezkalla and 18-year-old Negeen Mayel were attending the 15th annual Dearborn Arab international Festival in Dearborn Michigan, which was expected to draw over 300,000 people from across the country, Canada and the Middle East. The festival covered 14 blocks and was free and open to the public. In Dearborn an estimated 30,000 of the city’s 90,000 residents are Muslim.
The four are part of a group called Acts 17 Apologetics, Mayal’s parent’s emigrated from Afghanistan, while Qureshi and Mayal are former Muslims and Wood is a former atheist.
According to a video posted by David Wood, the four Christians did not pass out pamphlets of any kind but were only talking to people who approached them in conversation. Wood said they adopted this approach following events at last year’s festival where they had a booth inviting people to ask questions about Islam and were met with resistance by those in the event and allegedly assaulted by security.
This year, the four were arrested for “disturbing the peace” and had their cameras confiscated. Negeen, who was recording the events from about 100 feet away, had her camera confiscated and was arreste. On Saturday some members of Acts 17 Apologetics were outside of the festival distributing copies of the gospel of John and were stopped by police within minutes and told the only acceptable place to pass out the pamphlets was five blocks away.
The Gazette asked Wood if Dearborn police had observed anything illegal or if the arrest was based on hearsay. Wood said they were doing nothing illegal so someone must have lied to the police about what they were doing and that once the video footage is returned it will confirm the group was not breaking any laws.
In a video statement on the blog “Facts about Islam”, Wood was accused of planning to stir up trouble prior to the festival. The blogger said “His intention was to go there with his video camera, incite, provoke Muslims into inflammatory behavior so he could have his propaganda crew of video footage of Muslims behaving badly so he could feature this on his blog and get views. That’s all he wanted.”
In a separate case, regarding the Arab Festival, a Sudanese Christian, Pastor George Saieg was granted an emergency motion to distribute literature and talk about his faith at the festival. The three-judge panel from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a motion requested by the Thomas Moore Law Center, on behalf of Saieg, after a judge a week ago affirmed the city’s ban on handing out Christian material near the festival. Last year, Dearborn police threatened Saieg with arrest if he handed out information on Christianity near the festival.
Wood said these incidents illustrate what he meant when he described the events at the festival as Sharia Law in the U.S., saying “under Sharia law if you are a Christian you are a second-class citizen and you cannot proclaim the gospel to Muslims and that is exactly what we’re seeing being enforced here in Dearborn.”