Dearborn Four Follow-Up

The four proselytizers who were arrested for handing out copies of the Gospel outside the Arab International Festival were arraigned a couple of days ago on disturbing the peace charges and will have to appear at more hearings. I wrote earlier that unless more stuff went on that no one is talking about, I didn’t think what they were doing justified an arrest.

So this is what Steve Pardo of The Detroit News wrote about the arraignment:

Negeen Mayel, 18, of California; Nabeel Qureshi, 29, of Virginia; Paul Rezkalla, 18 of New York, and David Wood, 34, also of New York, face fines of up to $500 each and up to 93 days in jail. Dearborn authorities said the four “chose to escalate their behavior, which appeared well-orchestrated and deliberate” as they handed out religious literature and talking with people at the festival. The woman and three men are members or founders of a group called “Acts 17 Apologetics.” …

…City officials said police received a complaint of the members of Acts 17 Apologetics “harassing and intimidating patrons of the festival and that a large crowd was gathering.”

The behavior of these individuals drew and incited a large crowd to a point where they were in violation of city ordinances, including breach of peace and failure to obey the lawful order of a police officer, according to the city’s public relations department.

Festival rules require religious groups to distribute information at paid booths or outside the event.

The proselytizers released a YouTube video that appeared to show hardly anyone was nearby when police arrested them. The group also is complaining that the police confiscated their video cameras and haven’t returned them.

Just for fun I checked out the Acts 17 website, which is very attractive. The organization exists to convert Muslims to Christianity. From there I found some YouTube video from the same festival in 2009 in which the Acts 17 people clearly were proselytizing inside the festival area, not outside of it.

The video I linked to (if you don’t have the stomach to watch it) shows an Acts 17 guy behaving like a five-alarm asshole, aggressively (in a verbal way) challenging the religion of Islam right in the middle of this festival and then whining about how unfair it was that the security people at the festival made them stop filming and go away. Personally, I say the fair attenders showed enormous restraint by not breaking the video camera over the jerk’s head.

I think it’s important to recognize that aggressive, in-your-face proselytizing is an act of hate and hostility. The message behind it is “I hate you, and I’m going to keep hating you until you become like me.” It’s beyond obnoxious, but the proselytizers are incapable of seeing themselves as others see them.

I just hope for their sake they don’t spin off an organization to convert Buddhists. We may be non-violent, but we also invented kung fu.

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