Interfaith Rally Against Hate in Dearborn: 'We Have to Work Together'
Michigan Muslim Community Council rallies to denounce Mideast violence and video that sparked it.
The message was loud and clear as the MMCC, along with hundreds of protesters, condemned the violent unrest that resulted from an infamous movie trailer of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad entitled “Innocence of Muslims.”
The nearly 14-minute long amateur production portrays the Prophet Muhammad in a disgraceful manner, according to Imam Hassan Al-Qazwini, leader of the Islamic Center of America.
“It is filthy, it is disgusting and it is a true disgrace and cheap propaganda,” said Qazwini of the video. “Instead of others depicting our prophet, we need to depict our prophet as a true messenger of god as a man who was compassionate and merciful, that’s what we need to promote.”
Qazwini, along with several religious leaders of different faiths, took to the podium to voice his disapproval of the killing of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Libya. Each speaker also denounced the chaotic reaction to the movie that has wreaked havoc among Muslims in the Middle East.
Dawud Walid, who is the Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, put an emphasis on the importance and sacredness of the Prophet Muhammad to all Muslims. He illustrated how the depiction of the holy figure hits home for Islam’s followers and relayed how painful it is to endure such mockery of a holy figure.
The Rev. Edwin Rowe of Central United Methodist Church told the crowd that the makers of the film “have blood on their hands.”
“There is absolutely no way that we can call this anything close to free speech,” he said. “If you know that the action you’re going to create is going to create violence and death, then you’re responsible for the blood that it causes. And, I pray that these folks will be brought to justice.”
After the protest, Rowe further elaborated on how he feels the film’s producers should be handled lawfully.
“First of all, I wanted the person who did the video to be locked up,” Rowe said. “It’s pre-meditated murder, they know what is going to happen after the video and the blood is on their hands. I am not for capital punishment, but I am absolutely for life imprisonment for people who cause other people’s death.”
Other speakers included Robert A. Brutell, Chair of Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit; Michael Hovey, Director of the Office for Catholic Social Teaching for the Archdiocese of Detroit; Senior Advisor of MMCC Victor Begg; the Rev. Rani Abdulmasih, pastor of the Abundant Life Arabic Church in Dearborn; the Rev. Charles Williams of King Solomon Baptist Church; Islamic House of Wisdom’s leader Imam Elahi; and United Methodist pastor Bill Wylie-Kellerman.
Each speaker took about three minutes to share their thoughts on how Muslims and non-Muslims should properly and peacefully react to bigotry and ignorance. The crowd was responsive by repeatedly reciting in Arabic, “O Allah, exalt our leader Muhammad and the people of our leader Muhammad,” and applause.
“I do believe we have to work together,” said 19-year-old Bilal Assi. “We have to protest and use our voice as a weapon. At the end of the day if we talk and speak loud and let the world hear us, we can get things done.”