Detroit suburb police put on alert after op-ed calls town ‘America’s Jihad capital’

Dearborn mayor calls WSJ opinion piece bigoted and Islamophobic; author says mayor has allowed ‘shocking anti-US and pro-jihad sermons, marches,’ support for Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran

Illustrative: A pro-Palestinian demonstration, during the Israel-Hamas war, in Dearborn, Michigan, on October 14, 2023. (Jeff Kowalsky/ AFP)
Illustrative: A pro-Palestinian demonstration, during the Israel-Hamas war, in Dearborn, Michigan, on October 14, 2023. (Jeff Kowalsky/ AFP)

The mayor of Dearborn, Michigan, said the city’s police officers were ramping up their presence across places of worship and major infrastructure points, following an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal that he called “bigoted” and “Islamophobic.”

The Journal published the piece on Friday, headlined as “Welcome to Dearborn, America’s Jihad Capital.”

The city’s mayor and rights advocates from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee condemned the piece as anti-Arab and racist for suggesting the city’s residents, including religious leaders and politicians, supported Palestinian Islamist terrorist group Hamas and extremism.

“Reckless. Bigoted. Islamophobic,” Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud wrote on X about the Journal piece written by Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri).

“Effective immediately – Dearborn police will ramp up its presence across all places of worship and major infrastructure points. This is a direct result of the inflammatory @WSJ opinion piece that has led to an alarming increase in bigoted and Islamophobic rhetoric online targeting the city of Dearborn,” the mayor added.

The Journal did not respond to a request for comment. Stalinsky said he stood by his piece.

Illustrative: Then-Michingan state Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, now mayor of Dearborn, speaks during a campaign rally for presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, in Dearborn, Mich., March 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

In a statement to The Times of Israel, Stalinksy said: “I would ask the mayor to point out what was incorrect” in the piece, and to view a compilation video posted by Memri of “protests in his city and speeches and sermons by extremist imams in his city.” The compilation shows “shocking anti-US and pro-jihad sermons and marches,” said Stalinksy, including at events in the center of Dearborn “at locations such as the Henry Ford Centennial Library and the Ford Performing Arts Center.”

Stalinsky charged that the mayor “has allowed support inside Dearborn for US-designated terrorist groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as for the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, Iran and its leaders and its proxy militias – who are most recently responsible for killing three American service personnel this past week.” Asked Stalinksy: “Why hasn’t he condemned this open support in his city for America’s enemies, who are killing American soldiers?”

Rights advocates have noted a rise in Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian bias and antisemitism in the US since the eruption of war in the Middle East in October.

A Dearborn, Michigan, police car sits outside of the Islamic Center of America in metro Detroit, October 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Joey Cappelletti)

Among anti-Palestinian incidents that raised alarm were a November shooting in Vermont of three students of Palestinian descent and the fatal stabbing of a 6-year-old Palestinian American in Illinois in October.

Antisemitic rhetoric, including support for Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 1,200 people, most of whom were civilians, killed and more than 250 kidnapped, has also been prevalent. The founder and executive director of the Council on American–Islamic Relations said in November that he was “happy” to see the terrorist group perpetrate its attack.

CAIR bills itself as a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, but its critics have accused it of promoting antisemitic conspiracies and of links to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

* This article was updated to include comments from Steven Stalinsky.

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