While thousands shopped Black Friday bargains a half-mile away at Fairlane Town Center, about 100 demonstrators stood in the rain outside Dearborn’s Henry Ford Centennial Library to protest Muslim terrorism overseas.
Calling themselves Dearborn Muslims Against Terrorism on placards they handed out, leaders of the event focused their opposition on the militant ISIS forces waging civil wars in Syria and Iraq.
“If you want to know about ISIS, they have no god, no faith, no morality – they are savages,” Mustapha Mourtada, 28, of Dearborn shouted to the crowd through a bull horn. Mourtada, an automotive engineering manager, led chants of “What do we want? ISIS out! When do we want it? Now!”
At a time when anti-Muslim attitudes are said to be running high in Europe – and when some Republican candidates for president of the U.S. have called for increased security against Muslims, and even a registry of Muslims living here – protest leaders said it was urgent that southeast Michigan’s Muslims show their opposition to terror in the name of Islam.
Members of the group said most Muslims around the world want peace, and they said that anti-Islamic feelings — what they called Islamophobia — had been stirred anew by recent events, including the downing of a Russian airliner claimed by militants; ISIS victories against U.S.-trained Iraqi troops, and terrorist bombings in Paris as well as at a hotel for tourists in Mali.
Wearing a black turban, Ahmed Qazwini, who called himself a Muslim scholar but not an ordained cleric such as an imam, told the crowd that Islam had been hijacked by ISIS and that “most of the media keeps concentrating on them,” causing a rise in anti-Muslim attitudes.
“I ask the Almighty to help us fight these terrorists, these extremists,” and to “help us in uniting as Muslims,” he said, adding: “Unfortunately, we have people. … claiming (that) all Muslims are terrorists. This is wrong. We have to fight the propaganda.”
Speakers said the U.S. should allow the immigration of Syrian refugees, a point of controversy that erupted after the bombings this month in Paris. One woman held a sign saying that 750,000 refugees from Syria deserved sympathy and safety, although no mention was made of Gov. Rick Snyder’s request, and seconded by nearly two dozen other governors, to block immigration and resettlement of refugees until each newcomer can be given extra security scrutiny by federal authorities.