Dearborn mayor increases police presence after op-ed calls it 'jihad capital' of US

President Joe Biden condemns Islamophobia and anti-Arab sentiment

Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud said he would increase security at places of worship. Detroit News / AP
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The mayor of Dearborn, Michigan, announced the city is increasing security at mosques and other places of worship after an opinion piece referred to it as “America's jihad capital”.

“Effective immediately, Dearborn police will ramp up its presence across all places of worship and major infrastructure points,” Abdullah Hammoud wrote on X.

“This is a direct result of the inflammatory [Wall Street Journal] opinion piece that has led to an alarming increase in bigoted and Islamophobic rhetoric online targeting the city of Dearborn.”

Michigan is home to about 200,000 Muslim voters and 300,000 people whose ancestry is from the Middle East and North Africa, records show.

The piece, titled “Welcome to Dearborn, America's Jihad Capital”, said the Detroit suburb is a haven of “enthusiasm for jihad”, Hamas and other militant groups.

The author, Steven Stalinsky, director of the Middle East Media Research Institute, arrives at this conclusion by pointing to rallies and comments made by residents, including some religious leaders.

“What’s happening in Dearborn isn’t simply a political problem for Democrats. It’s potentially a national-security issue affecting all Americans. Counter-terrorism agencies at all levels should pay close attention,” it reads.

Mr Stalinsky told the Associated Press he wanted to bring attention to protests in which people have shown support for Hamas after the group attacked Israel on October 7.

He told he AP “nothing in my article was written to instigate any sort of hate”.

But the piece has drawn widespread criticism.

President Joe Biden, who visited Michigan last week, said: “Americans know that blaming a group of people based on the words of a small few is wrong”, in an apparent reference to the piece.

“That’s exactly what can lead to Islamophobia and anti-Arab hate, and it shouldn’t happen to the residents of Dearborn – or any American town.”

Mr Biden's visit to Michigan last week came as Muslim and Arab Americans in the state protested against his visit due to his administration's support for Israel as it continues to bomb Gaza in its fight against Hamas.

More than 27,000 Palestinians – mostly women and children – have been killed by Israeli strikes since the outbreak of war in Gaza, according to Gaza Health Ministry figures.

On X, Mr Hammoud welcomed Mr Biden's statement but criticised the White House's support for Israel.

The city of Dearborn said the opinion piece was “not just a gross misrepresentation but a dangerous perpetuation of stereotypes that fuel Islamophobia”.

“The hateful words of a few should never be used to demonise entire faiths or communities,” said Representative Haley Stevens, who represents Michigan's 11th district.

“To our Arab neighbours, you are welcome here. Islamophobia is never the answer.”

Dearborn Heights Mayor Bill Bazzi also expressed shock at the opinion piece, saying the Journal had used a “false derogatory term” to describe the city.

Updated: February 05, 2024, 5:55 PM