Clergy united in their mission to protest rally by Florida pastor
Some members of the interfaith clergy — Muslims, Christians and Jews — stood hand in hand, others were linked arm in arm, silently surrounding the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn in solidarity Thursday afternoon.
With them stood about 700 people, members of the InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit, members of the clergies’ congregations and supporters.
Their mission was to protest Florida Pastor Terry Jones’ plan to hold a rally today outside the Islamic Center mosque.
Jones, known for burning a copy of the Quran — the Muslim holy book — a month ago as a protest against Islam was nearby at a Dearborn courthouse as Wayne County prosecutors and Dearborn police argued to make Jones pay a bond to cover the cost of security for the Dearborn rally.
The vigil began at 5:15 p.m. and ended five minutes later. As it came to a close, Islamic Center Imam Hassan Al-Qazwini said the Muslim community was “indebted to our Christian friends who have showed us absolute support.”
“Terry Jones, he is not representative of the Christian community. … Terry Jones is speaking for himself only,” Al-Qazwini said. “This is bigotry, and we condemn his bigotry.”
Al-Qazwini and other Islamic Center officials also directed the Muslim community to attend a peaceful protest at 4 p.m. today at the Dearborn Civic Center, away from the mosque “so as to avoid any confrontation.”
Before the vigil, the InterFaith Leadership Council hosted a nearly one-hour “Vigil for the Beloved Community” program inside the Islamic Center.
A sign outside the large banquet hall read: “Pastor Terry Jones Does Not Speak on Behalf of Christians.”
Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly Jr. and U.S. Rep. John Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat, attended the event, along with the heads of Islamic, Christian and Jewish organizations.
Archbishop Allen Vigneron of the Archdiocese of Detroit also attended the event.
“We have an opportunity to show the nation and the world that it is possible for peoples of many different faiths to respect one another and to foster mutual understanding,” said Vigneron, who also spoke at the program.
The various speakers received frequent rounds of applause and standing ovations as they spoke in support of the Muslim community.
The Rev. Ron Griffin of the Rose of Sharon Church of God in Christ in Detroit attended the program and vigil, and said the event was important.
“We’ve got to stop allowing fringe individuals to come and divide us,” he said. “We need to send a message that we’re not going to allow that.”
The large crowd quickly dispersed after the vigil, but Islamic Center officials and members continued to hold a meeting to discuss the protest and counter-protests.
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Jones has brought the various faith communities together for a purpose.
“Now that the bridges are built, we need to cross those bridges,” he said.
Contact Naomi R. Patton: 313-223-4485