Leaders from the metro Detroit Christian and Muslim communities gathered Friday with the mayor of Dearborn to speak out against Quran-burning Pastor Terry Jones and to show their unity.
"As Muslims, this does not bother us. We have no problem with him coming to the Islamic Center of America to protest whatever he believes," said Imam Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini , spiritual leader of the Islamic Center. "We all in live in a free country. We urge our community not to violently confront this person."
The interfaith gathering at the Islamnic Center, the nation's largest mosque, was being held as held as Jones was in court arguing for his right to hold his protest on a small piece of property nearby along Ford Road.
Along with the calls for unity against Jones, the speakers stated that a "peaceful" rally would be held at the Dearborn Civic Center at 4 p.m. Friday as to not disrupt the Good Friday services being held at neighboring churches on Altar Road in Dearborn.
During the nearly hourlong press conference, the speakers repeated that the Muslims in Dearborn are following the laws of the United States, and not Sharia law as alleged by Jones.
"We as Muslims believe as part of our faith to abide by the laws of the United States Constitution, the state constitution of Michigan and any ordinances that apply to all citizens no matter what location we are in," said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
While the speakers agreed that Jones and his followers had a right to free speech, there is also a "responsibility" that goes along with those rights.
"The First Amendment is for everyone" said Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi, of the Islamic House of Wisdom. "Speak freely but don't accuse freely. Freedom of speech is different from freedom of irresponsibility and accusation. Freedom of speech is different from imposing psychological terrorism on the Muslim community."
Ali Elahi added that Sharia is mentioned in the Quran only once, and it is in reference to protection of people's life, integrity, intelligence and property, which is protected in the U.S. Constitution.
"We are already part of the American family and community. We already follow the law," said Ali Elahi.
Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly also addressed the assembled international media about the city's role in protecting both the protesters and those who attend the Islamic Center.
"We are enforcing the law because we have to protect other people," said O'Reilly, who stated Dearborn has never once told Jones he should not come. "We are trying to make this safe for everyone. I want to make sure everyone is safe."
This was the second day that local leaders from all faiths gathered at the Islamic Center. They also gathered Thursday evening to pray and promote peace.
"As a Christian leader, I stand against what Mr. Jones represents," said the Rev. Kenneth Flowers, president of the Michigan Progressive Baptist Convention. "We here in Metro Detroit, we are one community, different faiths but we stand together recognizing we are all created equal in the eyes of God."