Posted by on April 29, 2012 in News Clips
DETROIT (USA TODAY) — Arab-Americans and their supporters held a conference in Detroit on Sunday against bigotry in response to an anti-Islam conference in Dearborn, Mich.
"We stand for America," said Osama Siblani, publisher of the Dearborn-based Arab-American News, at a panel discussion held at a Detroit hotel. "And they (anti-Muslim activists) stand against America and against the American way of life."
Siblani's views were echoed by others who gathered for a conference organized by the Arab American Institute and supported by several other Arab-American groups to counter a conference held in Dearborn on Sunday by anti-Muslim activists called the "Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference on Honor Killings."
Last year, Mokdad, 20, a Muslim was shot dead by her stepfather in Warren, Mich. Some anti-Islam activists said it was a honor killing because initial reports were that she was perceived as too independent, but Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor Bill Cataldo said Friday it was not an honor killing. The family of Mokdad opposed the anti-Islam conference and didn't want Mokdad's name on it, Cataldo said.
On Sunday, Imam Hassan Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn -- the biggest mosque in Michigan -- said : "Honor killing has no religious roots in Islam."
Sunday's anti-Muslim conference features two of the most well-known anti-Islam activists in the United States, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.
Geller, who blogs against Islam, said: "Our goal is to raise awareness about the phenomenon of Islamic honor killing in order to help bring a stop to it. These girls have rights, too, they're human beings, and yet they're completely forgotten in our politically correct culture."
Qazwini said he believes Geller is motivated by money. He said she wants to make "Islam look like a monster to raise funds."
Sunday's anti-Muslim conference in Dearborn is the latest effort by anti-Islam activists to target Dearborn, which has the highest percentage of Arab-Americans in the U.S., according to Census figures. Earlier this month, Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones held a demonstration outside Qazwini's mosque.
In addition, some Christian missionaries have increasingly targeted Muslims at the annual Arab festival in Dearborn; last year, some yelled at festival goers as they walked by.
James Zogby, who heads the Arab American Institute, said of Sunday's anti-Muslim conference: "These people are bigots … they are sick."
The Arab-American conference featured talks by U.S. House Reps. John Conyers and Hansen Clarke, both Democrats from Detroit. Daniel Kirchbaum, executive director of Michigan's Department of Civil Rights, also spoke at the event, saying that many in Michigan want to make sure "Muslims are treated fairly and equally."Original Article comments powered by Disqus