Put together in response to the film “Innocence of Muslims,” rally organizer Tarek Baydoun said, “We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to sow the seeds of hate and discord against the religious beliefs of others.” Rally co-organizer Osama Siblani added, “There is a need for deterrent legal measures against those individuals or groups that want to damage relations between people, spread hate and incite violence.”
In other words, it appears one of the goals of the rally will be the eventual creation of blasphemy laws: laws that would reflect an international movement toward banning speech that is critical of Islam or Mohammed.
From Detroit Media: More than 1,000 rallied Friday night in Dearborn against the anti-Islam movie that has sparked protests around the world.
Organized by Arab-American leaders, the rally was the third protest in metro Detroit over the movie, the biggest one yet. Another protest against the anti-Islam movie that denigrates Islam’s prophet is set for today in Canton.
“Say No to Hate-Mongering, Say No to Islamophobia,” read a large banner at the rally in Dearborn’s civic center, the Ford Performing Arts & Community Center. On the podium was a sign that read: “We (heart symbol) Prophet Muhammad.”
Many came with their families to the rally, dressed in Islamic headscarves and robes. Speakers included Muslim leaders, Arab-American activists, a Unitarian minister, U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit), Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Richard Halloran, and civil rights leaders.
“United we stand, divided we fall,” Donnell White, executive director of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, told the crowd. “We stand with you as our brothers and sisters” Judge Halloran spoke about his Irish Catholic roots, noting that his ethnic group often suffered discrimination decades ago after they arrived in the U.S. They “were not looked at positively,” he said. And now, Muslims are facing bias that needs to be challenged, Halloran said.
“We need to speak out against discrimination against Islam,” he said.
Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab-American News, told the crowd that the people who made the anti-Islam film “are not (true) Americans. They are against what America stands for.”
Tarek Baydoun, an attorney from Dearborn, said “the growing tide of Islamophobia” is what prompted the rally. “It’s relentless,” Baydoun said of anti-Islam sentiment in the U.S.
Organized by Muslim leaders of South Asian descent, the rally today in Canton starts at 5 p.m. today at Canton Library. Protesters plan to walk to Heritage Park, where there is to be a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. today.