Local and national Arab American and Muslim groups will gather this Sunday at the Doubletree Hotel just outside of Dearborn in hopes of counteracting an anti-Islamic conference being held at the same time.
In a statement sent out Wednesday, the Arab American Institute announced that they will host a community town hall on Islamophobia at 1 p.m. on Sunday with a slew of local and national speakers–including religious leaders, media representatives, and political leaders.
The event they seek to fight is the Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference, also taking place Sunday at Dearborn's . Hosted by political commentators and outspoken critics of Islam Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, the conference aims to expose what they claim is blatant evidence of the persecution of women in the Muslim faith.
Jessica Mokdad, for whom the conference was named, was murdered in 2011 in Warren, MI. Police arrested her stepfather for the crime, and some–Gellar included–have speculated that the shooting was an "honor killing" due to her rejection of Islam.
Mokdad's family told Fox News Detroit that "absolutely it was not."
Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab American Institute, said in a statement that the community should not stand idly as the conference takes place.
"They are exploiting the tragedy of a young Arab American girl to promote a bigoted agenda," she said. "It is shameful.
"And unlike the irrelevant (Quran-burning Pastor Terry) Jones, Geller and Spencer have thousands of followers, and are given airtime to spew their hate on major American news networks," she added. "This group, we cannot ignore."
“Geller and Spencer, who Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik admittedly drew inspiration from, incite hatred against Muslims and immigrants under the guise of saving America,” added CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid. “We know from the history of the Holocaust to the internment of Japanese-Americans that hate rhetoric and casting a minority population as a fifth column can have terrible consequences.”
The Islamophobia Town Hall will include multiple speakers, including AAI President James Zogby, journalist and blogger Sara Posner, Executive Director of the Council for American-Islamic Relations of Michigan Dawud Walid, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of Michigan Director Imad Hamad, Imam Sayed Qazwini, state Rep. Rashida Tlaib and several others.
The town hall is free to attend and open to the public.