Jack O’Reilly Jr., the mayor of Dearborn, Michigan, has written an open letter to publicity-seeking, Quran-burning Florida pastor Terry Jones, in an effort to dissuade him from protesting in front of a Dearborn mosque. In the letter, O’Reilly tells Jones it’s ridiculous to believe that the city is under Sharia law: “If Dearborn practiced Sharia law, would we have three adult entertainment bars and more alcohol-licensed bars and restaurants per capita than most other cities?”
“None of that should be allowed under Sharia law,” O’Reilly said.
Jones has been planning a protest for Friday in front of Dearborn’s Islamic Center of America, in opposition to “radical Islam” and Sharia law. “There is no place better than there to present this message,” he said. He also said he plans to bring a pistol with him, but has no plans to burn the Quran, the Detroit News reports. Jones added that they are “coming there totally in peace.”
Dearborn is home to one of the highest percentages of Arab-American residents in the country.
Mayor O’Reilly wrote the letter to Jones on Wednesday in the hopes he might stay away, and noted the presence of the strip clubs and bars as well as the fact that the Dearborn Sausage factory (a purveyor of many things pork) is right next to a mosque. “No one has ever objected,” he wrote.
“Our commitment to the Constitution is unwavering, not merely convenient, which makes your hyperbole about Sharia Law being practiced in the courts or civil law of Dearborn nonsensical,” O’Reilly said. “So, you are coming to protest against an imaginary threat that doesn’t exist in our community. Not in our courts, not at our City Hall, not on our streets and not in any of our places of worship.”
On Wednesday, the city denied Jones a permit to protest outside the mosque, citing “public safety reasons.” City spokeswoman Mary Laundroche even said Jones could be arrested if he went through with it. Officials said he could protest in one of the city’s “free speech zones” instead.
Thursday, Jones appeared in District Court, where a judge ruled that Jones must pay a “peace bond” to cover the costs of extra law enforcement officials to cover the event. Jones had previously said he would not pay the bond, but will go on with the protest.
So why has Jones come to Dearborn in the first place? Not that Jones requires much in way of inspiration, but he may have taken to the idea that the city is under Sharia law via an incident in June 2009 during the Arab International Festival, Niraj Warikoo of the Detroit Free-Press explains. A group of Christian evangelicals yelled at attendees “that they were going to hell because they were Muslim,” and some among them were escorted out by security. The video of the incident was put up on YouTube, and was used as “proof” that the city was under Sharia law by some anti-Islam right-wingers.
Jones caused a huge controversy last fall when he announced plans to burn number of copies of the Quran on September 11, though was pressured into calling it off. But he eventually did burn a Quran in March, which resulted in several days of violent protests in Afghanistan in which at least two dozen people died.
The same mosque was targeted in January in an alleged bomb plot by an Army veteran.