Dearborn Mayor Responds to Angle: "No Sharia Law Here"

Dearborn Mayor Responds to Angle: "No Sharia Law Here"

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DEARBORN,Mich--Attention from Americans around the nation surfaced over Dearborn this week to watch the city's mayor, John B. O'Reilly Jr., fire back at Sharron Angle, Republican nominee for the United States Senate seat in Nevada, who last week at a Tea Party rally said sharia law existed in Dearborn and Frankford, Texas.

Angle never intended on discussing sharia law at the rally. The topic was brought up when a questioner in the crowd expressed concern that Muslims were taking over America, and asked Angle what she thought. In an audio obtained by the Washington Post from the rally Angle responded, "We're talking about a militant terrorist situation, which I believe isn't a widespread thing, but is enough that we need to address, and we have been addressing it. My thoughts are these. First of all, Dearborn, Michigan, and Frankford, Texas, are on American soil and under constitutional law, not sharia law. And I don't know how this happened in the United States."

After hearing Angle's claim O'Reilly sent her a letter Monday clearing up misconceptions she may have of Dearborn and invited her to visit the city. To date, O'Reilly hasn't heard from her.

O'Reilly appeared on CNN with Anderson Cooper, and was also interviewed on local TV news.

Angle never apologized for her comments. To respond to the vast amount of criticism she's received, her communications director Jarrod Agen issued this statement to ABC news in an email, "She was referencing some incidents reported in the press, but made it clear there was nothing widespread and that we have freedom of religion in this nation." Angle appeared on the conservative Lars Larson's radio show to clarify her remarks.

"In the position that she seeks, she needs to make sure her facts are true and that's an obligation every leader has," O'Reilly said. "She just picked it up and repeated it without doing research." O'Reilly believes a video placed on YouTube by a Christian based group, Acts 17 Apologetics, may have misled Angle and other Americans on Dearborn. The video, titled "Arab Festival 2009: Sharia in Dearborn," has received over two-million hits and claims sharia law exists in Dearborn. "It originates from Nabeel Qureshi and David Wood," O'Reilly said. Both Wood and Qureshi along with two other Christian missionaries returned to the festival in 2010 and were arrested June 19 and charged with a misdemeanor of disturbing the peace. O'Reilly says he's received about 6,500 emails in response to the video and arrests at the festival.

In the letter to Angle O'Reilly writes, "I invite you to visit Dearborn and see for yourself what is really going on in our community." He also said, "I am afraid that many share the perception that Muslims have only recently immigrated to this area and are imposing their culture on our region." He adds, "Muslims have been practicing their faith in our community for almost 90 years without incident or conflict. To suggest that they have taken over ignores the fact that Dearborn hosts seven mosques and 60 Christian churches." O'Reilly continues, "We have often been referred to as a crucial component of the Arsenal of Democracy. The truth is that Muslims have been in our country since the revolutionary war fighting for our independence." O'Reilly also adds, "I don't blame you entirely for misunderstanding Dearborn, the international, national and even regional media haven't always painted a accurate picture of Dearborn. Because we are accessible to media markets for any story related to events in the Middle East, we are often used to provide a visual accompaniment to global news items, even if they are unconnected to our community."

Arab American Political Action Committee Vice President and community representative for Senator Irma Clark-Colman's office Tarek Baydoun responded to Angle's remarks by sending 250,000 robo calls to Nevada residents informing them that Angle's remarks were misleading. Baydoun says around 150,000 residents listened to the calls. "I would like to thank our great mayor John B. O'Reilly for standing up for our community. I think that it is important for every community member to respond to attacks on our community," Baydoun said.

Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee-Michigan said Angle made the remarks to boost her campaign. "They don't have a real agenda to address to our state or country and they have to depend on the fear factor so they can run away from the real debate and their real plan of action," he said.

Hamad isn't worried about the remarks clouding the judgment of Americans. "I don't think our fellow Americans are naive enough to take her claim with a basic sense of judgment. The vast majority of people care for true American values. That type of rotten rhetoric will not sell, and if it does, it will be a short sale."

O'Reilly also thinks Angle made the remarks to sway voters and hatred, emotion and fear are often tactics used by politicians to control people. "I believe in her mind that was a way to get voters to support her," O'Reilly said. "They're associating the religion (with) the terrorist, and in no time before this has there been a broad attempt to associate religion with the terrorist."