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Dearborn imam confronted ‘Death to America’ protester

Dearborn Heights, Michigan — An imam in the Dearborn area said he personally confronted local protesters who shouted slogans such as “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” at a recent rally.

“I am absolutely against saying ‘death to America,'” Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi told Fox News Digital. “I know that this may be said in some countries, but I personally disagree no matter where you say it. It doesn’t matter where you say it…it’s not helpful.”

Elahi, an imam at the local House of Islamic Wisdom Mosque, spoke shortly after a controversial rally in nearby Dearborn on the last Friday of Ramadan where speakers led a crowd in chants of “Death to America.” They shouted, chanting “Death to Israel!” . ” Video of the incident sparked national headlines about extremism within the Michigan imam’s local community.

“This is why Imam Khomeini, who declared International Al-Quds Day, tells us to pour all of your chants and cries into the heads of America,” said Tarek, a Michigan-based activist with the Hadi Institute. Bazzi said. he said in a video of the rally shared by the Middle East Media Institute.

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi of Dearborn Heights, Michigan, spoke out against the chants of “Death to America” ​​and “Death to Israel” at a recent anti-Israel rally. (Michael Lee/Fox News Digital)

On the last day of Ramadan, Muslim demonstrators in Michigan chant “Death to America” ​​and “Death to Israel”.

Elahi told Fox News Digital that although he did not attend the rally, he “heard about it” and confronted one of the people who was seen chanting slogans “loudly” at the rally. He pointed out that there were also cases.

“I talked to him and I [expressed] It’s a shame because we live to live, not to die. we are for love We stand for peace and justice,” Elahi said.

Local activist Tarek Bazzi.

Tarek Bazzi (Middle East Media Research Institute)

Elahi noted that the rally included only “a small number of people” who chanted slogans, and argued that these protesters represent a minority of the Dearborn community.

Nevertheless, the Michigan imam said he made sure to speak out against chanting such slogans in public, including during Friday prayers the following week.

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The controversy surrounding the rally comes against a backdrop of deep resentment toward current U.S. foreign policy among many Arabs in the Dearborn area, who fiercely oppose the Biden administration’s handling of the Gaza conflict. .

Dearborn, which has the highest Muslim population per capita in the country, has become a center of resistance to President Biden’s re-election as a result of his handling of the conflict, with organizers leading a movement that has attracted more than 100,000 people. marked it as “dishonest”. Instead of supporting the president during Michigan’s Democratic primary, he wrote “” on his ballot.

Elahi acknowledged his dissatisfaction with current U.S. policy in Gaza, but said he encouraged members of the community to participate peacefully in the democratic process rather than using violent rhetoric. Told.

“As a Muslim community, we believe in voting and advocacy,” Elahi said.

Pro-Palestinian march in Dearborn, Michigan, May 2021

Protesters march through an area near a Ford Motor Co. factory in Dearborn, Michigan, on May 18, 2021, during a demonstration against President Biden’s continued support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. (Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images)

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The Michigan imam said there are many partners in the U.S. who support the Muslim community’s political efforts, and chants like the one at the Dearborn rally were used by people who “showed empathy and solidarity with the Muslim community.” He argued that there was a risk of alienating people.

“It is very detrimental to the cause of our community,” Elahi said. “Because when you say this, America means us, the American people. So if we have 8 million Muslims, we’re America too. So, This is kind of suicidal and we don’t agree with it.”

Elahi said she encourages people in the community to be “part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

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“We did a good job back then,” Elahi said. “I talked about it. Other imams talked about it. We talked to a few people that we know are part of it and we hope our message reaches them. I made sure it was very clear.”

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