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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Michigan Dems Outraged by Op-Ed Calling Detroit Suburb ‘America’s Jihad Capital’

'I don’t think any of the leaders read the full article. They used a couple sentences from the beginning but don’t get into the facts that I cite lower down...'

(Headline USA) Two Democratic state lawmakers in Michigan condemned an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal that dubbed a Detroit suburb “America’s jihad capital.”

State Rep. Alabas Farhat and House Floor Leader Abraham Aiyash described it as “racist and Islamophobic” in a resolution presented Tuesday.

The measure called on the newspaper to retract the piece, which was published Friday, and to issue a public apology to the City of Dearborn.

“It was a pathetic excuse for an editorial piece,” said Farhat, who represents Dearborn.

“It fanned the flames of hatred and division in our country during a time when hate crimes are on the rise,” he added. “It makes it so that it’s normal to question how patriotic your neighbor is.”

The resolution was referred to committee in the state House, which is split evenly between Democratic and Republican representatives, with 54 members each.

Farhat blamed Republicans for the resolution not being voted on, and said that only two Democrats signed on because of the rush to turn it in on time.

“[T]here’s broad support in our caucus” for the resolution, he claimed.

The op-ed’s author is Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Washington-based think tank founded by Israeli analysts.

Stalinsky pushed back on the criticism Tuesday in a phone call with the Associated Press, and stood by his piece.

“It’s a political stunt,” he said of the resolution.

“I don’t think any of the leaders read the full article,” Stalinsky added. “They used a couple sentences from the beginning but don’t get into the facts that I cite lower down. Everyone is attacking the headline and no one is reading the full article.”

Yet, the opinion piece exacerbated anger and concerns within the Dearborn community, which has a large Arab–American population.

Officials said they increased police presence in the city after the op-ed appeared, perhaps validating, to some extent, the characterization of Muslim extremists as oversensitive and prone to violence.

Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud tweeted that city police increased security at places of worship after the op-ed column “led to an alarming increase in bigoted and Islamophobic rhetoric online.”

Dearborn High School was put on a temporary soft lockdown on Tuesday after a shell casing was found inside the building, according to police. The lockdown was lifted Tuesday afternoon, and police said on social media that there were no threats to the school or community.

In the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel and the subsequent military strike on Gaza, radical Muslims and Palestinian sympathizers have engaged in regular acts of disruption, vandalism and violence in the U.S. and other Western nations allied with Israel.

While many of those have specifically targeted or persecuted Jews on college campuses and elsewhere, protesters have pushed a false equivalency by characterizing any backlash as “Islamophobia.”

Democrats fear that the loss of Muslim support—including vocal criticism from “Squad” member Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.—could cost President Joe Biden the state in his re-election campaign.

That, in turn, might ultimately clinch victory for former President Donald Trump, the GOP frontrunner, who already is polling ahead of the incumbent president in many crucial swing states.

Biden’s visit to Michigan last week was met with protests and chants of, “Hey Biden, what do you say? We won’t vote on Election Day.”

Some are responding with a desperate mix of virtue-signaling and efforts to scapegoat their Republican counterparts.

Michigan’s far-left Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told reporters Monday that the article was “cruel and ignorant.”

Biden tweeted that “blaming a group of people based on the words of a small few is wrong,” while also referencing Dearborn.

State and city governments across the nation have approved pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian resolutions that have no legal authority but reflect the pressure on local officials to speak up on the conflict.

Michigan lawmakers, however, have struggled to come to a consensus on how to react to the Israel-Hamas war and its effects in Dearborn, which also has a large Jewish population.

In October, a pro-Israel resolution in the state House that was introduced with bipartisan support was never passed because of objections from several Democrats.

Aiyash, the Democratic floor leader in the chamber, strongly opposed the resolution at the time, saying, “If we’re going to condemn terror, we must condemn the terror and the violence that the Palestinian people have endured for decades.”

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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