By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Late Friday evening, a jury of six Dearborn, Michigan residents returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty of breach of the peace charges, which were brought against four Christian evangelists who were peacefully proselytizing to Muslim youths during the Arab International Festival on June 18, 2010.
According to the Thomas More Law Center (TLMC), a national Christian public interest law firm who represented the accused, the jury needed less than two hours to return a not-guilty verdict against evangelists, Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, Paul Rezkalla, Negeen Mayel and David Wood. The Law Center’s Robert Muise represented the Christians at no charge.
The charges were brought by the Dearborn Police Department in June when the four men were peacefully proclaiming the faith at the Arab International Festival. Even though the city of Dearborn banned the distribution of Christian literature near the festival, the men had received permission from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to exercise their freedom of speech by handing out literature and speaking at the festival.
Witnesses say the Christians were behaving respectfully that day and accuse the police department of over-reacting in order to cater to the city’s large Muslim population.
According to the Law Center, this behavior is ongoing. Even after the acquittals, Dearborn’s mayor, Jack O’Reilly, has continued his personal attacks on the Christian evangelists, accusing them of being anti–Muslim bigots.
“O’Reilly’s continuous anti-Christian rhetoric was clearly an attempt to curry favor with Dearborn’s large Muslim population, which also explains the Police Department’s alarming mobilization to arrest the four Christians,” the Law Center writes.
Richard Thompson, TLMC President and Chief Counsel, commented, “Rob Muise did an outstanding job advocating on behalf of Free Speech rights protected by our Constitution, despite unsubstantiated police claims that peaceful conversations with Muslims were going to incite a disturbance. The bottom line in the jury’s not guilty verdict: the Constitution, not Shariah law, still prevails in Dearborn, Michigan.”
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