Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Welcome to Dearbornistan

Dearborn, in case you didn't know, is a city in a state known as Michigan, in a country known as the United States of America.
Dearborn -- Four Christian missionaries were arraigned today on misdemeanor charges of disturbing the peace following their June 18 arrest at the Arab International Festival.

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."

But Ann Arbor attorney Robert Muise, senior trial counsel with the Thomas More Law Center, said their constitutional rights were violated and they engaged in no illegal behaviors.

"The encroachment of the First Amendment is just astonishing," said Muise, who said police confiscated the video cameras and have yet to return them, despite repeated requests. He said he would take the case to trial.

"We're not going to plead to anything because we didn't do anything wrong," Muise said.
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 four are free on bond. They are expected to be back in court for an Aug. 30 hearing.
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