CAIRO - Rejecting the fear-mongering campaigns played by controversial Qur'an-burning pastor Terry Jones, Americans gathered in the country's tenth largest city of Dearborn to denounce his bashing of Muslims and their religion.
"God Loves Us All," Laura Dennis, 38, of Detroit, told Detroit Free Press on Sunday, April 8.
"This guy's just a hatemonger, no different from the Klan or a Nazi."
Fellow protestor Wissam Chalk, 32, of Redford Township, agreed.
"America is made for all. We are all one."
Protestors gathered to protest a rally staged by the controversial pastor outside the Islamic Center of America, a Dearborn mosque that sits off Ford Road.
Holding signs that read "I Will Not Submit, Jones said he is concerned that the growth of the Muslim population in Detroit, claiming that the US will lead to the oppression of non-Muslims.
"Muslims, no matter where they go around the world ... they push their agenda on the society," Jones said.
"We must take back America."
He also called for a worldwide burning of the Qur'an on April 28 if an imprisoned pastor in Iran is not released from a death sentence after converting from Islam to Christianity.
"If he isn't freed, I will ask the world to burn the Qur'an in protest starting at 5 p.m. on April 28th in Gainesville, Fla," said Jones, referring to Youcef Nadarkhani.
The mosque was placed on lockdown Saturday afternoon, with about 30 police cars from Detroit, Dearborn, Wayne County and the State of Michigan surrounding the area, which also includes several churches.
Muslim preachers were disappointed after they were denied access to the mosque to offer daily prayers.
During the anti-Muslim rally, an electronic billboard at the Islamic Center read, "Happy Easter."
Living for decades in peace with Muslim neighbors, some Dearborn residents blasted Jones for spreading his hate message in their calm, loving city.
"He's come up here to a peaceful city where everyone gets along," Dearborn resident Seth Taylor told The Detroit News, wishing Jones had stayed in his home state of Florida.
"Jesus â¦ said to love your neighbor. I don't understand Jones' concept of Christianity.
"We have people getting blown up in Afghanistan over burned Qur'an. How is this going to help?" he asked.
Jones, a 58-year-old pastor and the head of a small fringe church in Gainesville, Florida, burnt the Qur'an in front of a crowd of about 50 people on March 20 in what he called "International Judge the Qur'an Day".
Video posted on the website of his church showed a kerosene-soaked book going up in bright flames, sending thousands of angry Afghans into the streets in deadly protests that left scores of people dead.
In April 2011, Jones as well as his associate, Wayne Sapp, were sent to jail for harming peace after refusing to post a $1 peace bond before his rally in front of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn.
The ruling judge also ordered both Jones and Sapp to stay away from the mosque and adjacent property for three years. That decision was later overturned by a Detroit judge.
Since 9/11, US Muslims, estimated between six to seven million, have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.
There have been 800 incidents of violence, threats and vandalism against Muslims since 2001. Estimates show that 14 percent of religious discrimination is reported against Muslims.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net