Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Anti-Muslim Rally Hurts Michigan

By Dawud Walid, CAIR-MI Executive Director
Michigan, which contains one of the largest concentrations of Muslims in America, is also home to aggressive Islamophobic and xenophobic elements that unfortunately include some elected representatives. 

Michigan State Representative Dave Agema (R-Grandville) plans to hold an “Anti-Sharia Rally” at the state capital this Thursday in order to push copy-cat restriction of foreign laws legislation, which has been promoted nationwide by a cottage industry of Islamophobes.  Agema, who introduced this legislation last year but failed to get it out of the Michigan House Judiciary Committee, hopes that his “rally” will encourage his legislative colleagues and the public to jump on his extremist and un-American bandwagon.

In recent past, Agema also sponsored an Arizona immigration copy-cat bill that would have justified racial profiling in practice for local and state law enforcement.  During a hearing a few months ago, he trotted out fake ex-terrorist Kamal Saleem to testify as to how E –Verify would keep Michigan safe from undocumented boogeyman Muslims, who have plans to infiltrate our nation.  He has even endorsed making changes to the 14th Amendment, which grants birthright citizenship to all born in America to wanting to make Michigan an “English-only” state.

Besides the fact that his intolerant bill will have a negative impact on Jews, Catholics and others whose religious codes are considered in Michigan courts pertaining to congregational and marital arbitration, hate simply hurts Michigan.

Michigan is the only state in the past decade that suffered population atrophy.  In addition, Metro Detroit is one of the most segregated major cities in America, and Michigan in general has one of the worse economies in our land.  Wisdom should dictate that a climate of inclusion, not division, should be cultivated by politicians and religious leaders to help attract migration to Michigan both in persons of various ethnicities and faiths as well as businesses.  Agema and his supporters truly do not comprehend that propagating hate is not simply immoral, but also has negative economic consequences in chilling growth.  

Although Michigan Governor Rick Synder, who is a Republican, has clearly stated that immigration is a key to bolstering our economy and he has friendly relations with Michigan Muslims, we have not heard from him nor our state’s GOP leadership a clear repudiation of Agema’s anti-Islam message.  Our politicians simply cannot hide on the sidelines and be silent while their colleagues foment division.  As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously stated, “A time comes when silence is betrayal,” and that betrayal is to the values that we as a state and a nation claim to represent.

A coalition ranging from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee – Michigan (ADC-MI) and the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) to the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (ICPJ) and Jewish Voices for Peace – Detroit stand in solidarity against Agema’s fear-mongering in favor of a more inclusive Michigan.  It is our hope that our elected officials will also join this same spirit and speak out strongly against Agema’s anti-Muslim antics.  At the end of the day, we must all recognize that hate hurts Michigan. 

Photo: from the Flickr stream of Viktor Nagornyy

Dawud Walid is the Exec. Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI), and a board member of the Metropolitan Detroit Interfaith Workers’ Rights Committee. A decorated US Navy veteran, Dawud has presented about Islam/interfaith dialogue at over twenty institutions of higher learning, on panels with int'l leaders and academics, and in media outlets including Al-Jazeera, CNN, BBC Radio, FOX, NPR, the New York Times, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal.


  1. God allowed America to be unique in the world built on the Bible and Judeo-Christian principles. To have another ideology erase and rebuild our foundations is unacceptable. Christianity brings freedom-islam brings submission. Christianity brings hope-islam brings works.

  2. Challenge flag. There have been Muslims on this continent for 400 years - that is longer than the United States has even been a country. Their stories, their experiences, their faith, and their values are all component parts of the American experience. Ignorance brings misunderstanding - encounter brings about respect. Together, we all bring about a better tomorrow.

    1. What an unmitigated load of CRAP.

      Whatever Muslims were here previously were not TERRORIST-LINKED ISLAMIC SUPREMACISTS like this guy and his criminal cult CAIR.

  3. Friend speaks my mind. I'm afraid our first commenter has some fairly misinformed views on both Islam and its place in our nation's history, precisely the sort of views that Dawud is warning us about in this article. Any narrative of our nation's past that does not include the experiences of our Muslim sisters and brothers is incomplete at best, and at worst a dangerous example of revisionism and historical white-washing. I would encourage our first commenter to acquaint yourself firsthand with some of your Muslim neighbors, and to see if your story doesn't start to change.

  4. Oh, please. The bigotry and "racism" comes from SHARIA LAW.

    Who do you think you're fooling with all this phony weeping and wailing?


  5. Very well put! We often forget that MI's manufacturing boom worked in part because both immigrants and blacks were welcome to earn equal pay, that in turn grew a diverse middle class. Fear mongering isn't gonna help the economic or political climate. Equal opporsunity invites people to invest and work in MI. Not surprised Rep from Grandville, a city far from Metro Detroits culture of mutual respect and acceptance is hyping up this bigotry.

  6. CAIR needs to clean up its own damn house before going after others.

  7. I am so sorry for the ignorance of some of these posters. We obviously still have a long way to go in building bridges toward interfaith understanding and acceptance. Thank you for your witness, Dawud!

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  9. To Anonymous:
    This one quote of many from the old testment:
    Deuteronomy 21:
    A Rebellious Son
    18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.
    and there are many more of what a priest and Rabai call it "Bloody chapters!!!".
    I can tell you that I am sure there is more to it that what it sounds. One of the differences between me and you: I don't make judgment on what the media feeds me.......

  10. To Anonymous:
    I feel sorry for the Ignorant copy caters; all what you did is copying the media, regardless if it was right or wrong. you should go and read. Ironically we go to school for years to learn about subjects(Medicine, Law, ...) but when it comes to religion we are so knowlagabl; just from what we hear, we know it all!!! I don't need to defend Islam, simply because Islam stands for it self.