Terry Jones, the infamous Qur’an-burning Pentecostal pastor from Florida, says he returning to Dearborn for a fifth time on Flag Day to to protest what he and others in his anti-Islamic group, Stand Up America, believe is the implementation of Sharia Law in the United States.
The Detroit Free Press said the Dearborn Freedom Rally will be staged outside the Islamic Center of America, one of the largest mosques in Michigan, on June 14. Although Jones didn’t say what motorcycle group had invited him to speak at their rally, it’s generally believed to be the American Patriot Riders. It’s believed about 450 motorcyclists plan to attend the rally.
Dearborn has a large population of Arab Americans and is home of the biggest mosques in Michigan, the Islamic Center of America. About 40 percent of the city’s residents are of Arab descent and many of them are Muslims.
Jones is a controversial figure internationally whose previous Muslim holy book burnings have been linked to increased attacks on U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a report in the Guardian. In 2010, former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates called Jones and asked him to reconsider a plan to burn thousands of Qur'ans to commemorate the 9/11 terrorist attacks, NPR said.
Dearborn Mayor Jack B. O’Reilly Jr. has denounced the event as “un-American,” but acknowledges that the First Amendment gives him and the motorcycle group that invited him the right to speak.
The city lost a skirmish with Jones in 2013 when a federal judge ruled the city had violated his First Amendment rights by forcing his group to sign an indemnification agreement before speaking at a rally at the mosque in 2012.
O’Reilly said a the city’s annual Flag Day ceremony better represents the spirit of Dearborn.
Earlier this year, the Arab International Festival was cancelled for a second year because organizers feared spiraling insurance costs because of tensions with extremist Christians.
“If Stand Up America Now has any reason to celebrate, it's for the cancellation of the Arab International Festival— which would have been held that same weekend— for the second year in a row,” The Arab American News said. “On the group's Facebook page, members were celebrating its cancellation. The group had planned to protest at the festival in 2013 before the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, the organizers of the event, announced that the event was cancelled.”
- Organizers Cite Spiraling Insurance Costs Due to Tensions with Extremists in Arab American Fest Cancellation