Family upset “human rights” conference has deceased daughter’s name on it
(Arab American News)
DEARBORN – A local Arab American family is angry over an upcoming ”human rights” conference that features the name of their deceased daughter, believing that its true goal is to push an anti-Islam agenda.
The Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference is scheduled to take place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dearborn on April 29 at 5 p.m., and marks the one year anniversary of Mokdad’s death.
Mokdad was only 20-years-old when her step-father Rahim Alfetlawi shot her to death in Warren.
Following the fatal incident mixed reports about Alfetlawi’s motive for killing Mokdad were disputed. Family members of Mokdad and a prosecutor on the case say Alfetlawi was controlling, and obsessed with Mokdad.
The family says Alfetlawi wanted to have a romantic relationship with Mokdad. Others say it was a honor killing and religiously motivated, because Mokdad wasn’t following traditional Islamic customs and becoming “Westernized.”
“It wasn’t a honor killing at all,” a close friend of the family said. Speaking to The Arab American News by phone Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor, Bill Cataldo says there’s sufficient proof that religion was not a factor that triggered the crime.
He says days leading up to the incident Mokdad came forward to police with information about Alfetlawi, and also shared that information with a friend. The information is not being disclosed, because those who knew Mokdad well may be sensitive about it.
When Alfetlawi learned Mokdad had shared the information with police and a friend he became angry according to Cataldo. She was found dead afterwards.
Conservative blogger Pamela Geller is hosting the conference. Geller is also the executive director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, and Stop Islamization of America. In a television interview Geller said she’s just trying to save other women from being the next Mokdad.
In a local televised interview, Cassandra Mokdad, the victim’s step-mother said that Geller is, “using Jessica as her poster child for anti-Islam.” Cassandra declined to speak, but has said she might make an appearance at the conference to let Geller know how she feels.
Geller refuses to remove Mokdad’s name from the conference despite requests from the family. Conference speakers include television host and author Michael Coren, human rights activist Nonie Darwish; Sudanese ex-slave Simon Deng; David Wood, one of the former Christian missionaries who was charged with preaching the peace at the Arab American International Festival in Dearborn; James Lafferty of the Virginia Anti-Shariah Taskforce, co-cost of the conference. Wood is from the group Acts 17 Apologetics.
The conference is dedicated to exposing what the group says is the plight of women under “Islamic Law in Dearborn.” Organizers say they chose the Hyatt in Dearborn to stand in solidarity with other women in the area who may be in danger or oppressed under Islam. In the past the city’s mayor and officials have took drastic measures to prove the fact that Islamic Law does not exist in Dearborn. There are also misconceptions that women in Dearborn are oppressed, another claim the mayor has rejected.
The Mokdad family friend has lived in Dearborn for 25 years, and says such claims about Dearborn and its women are not true. The Arab American Women’s Business Council is based in the city, and includes well educated Arab American professionals. “Dearborn is home to the 2010 Miss U.S.A.,” she said. “We have a very good community.”