NewsRegionWayne County

Dearborn community hurt and on alert over controversial opinion column posted by the Wall Street Journal

Posted at 6:15 PM, Feb 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-05 18:33:19-05

DEARBORN, Mich. (WXYZ) — Eighteen-year-old Jenna Abdallah is a Wayne State University student working part time at District 12, a burger hotspot in Dearborn, the Michigan city that Abdallah is proud to be born and raised in.

"It's the best community ever. It's like you walk anywhere; I feel so safe. It's crazy because I was asking myself the other day, do I really want to move out of Dearborn?" said Abdallah.

But today, Jenna's sentiments were slightly different.

"It's really disheartening," said Abdallah.

After reading the recent Wall Street Journal op-ed published on Feb. 2, Abdallah is worried about the community's safety because the article claims Dearborn is "America's Jihad Capital."

"It's nothing of that sort. We are not violent. Actually, I think we are one of the most heartfelt people ever," said Abdallah.

Out on the streets, Dearborn-based realtor Mohamed Beydoun says his blood was boiling when he read that the city was being targeted because of its high Arab and Muslim population.

"It's not only Muslims. It's more of a melting pot with Christians, Jewish people. With growing up here, I've just learned to love everyone," said Beydoun.

With the worry that the article could fuel Islamophobic incidents in the city, Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud immediately authorized additional police units to be deployed across the city including at places of worship and schools.

"We've seen messages online saying this is Dearborn until I show up with my AK-47. I've had threats lodged against myself, my family members, saying we want to do this to your children and your family, all a direct result of WSJ running such an inflammatory piece," said Hammoud.

President Joe Biden also weighed in on social media: "Americans know that blaming a group of people based on the words of a small few is wrong. 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.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also said, "Well, I thought that opinion article was an incredibly cruel and ignorant and total misrepresentation of an important city full of beautiful people who are Michiganders."

At a press conference, Arab American Civil Rights League founder Nabih Ayad, along with other metro Detroit officials, reminded folks of the rise of hate crime that follows from such an article.

"They came from Arizona, Montana and Florida; come hate on this community, and shame on those individuals who don't understand the wonderful work that this community has brought," said Ayad.

"There are about 10,000 Arab Americans who serve in the U.S. armed forces; many of them are from Dearborn, and one of them is a city council member who just returned from the Middle East. The largest Memorial Day in America takes place here on Michigan Avenue in the city of Dearborn," said Sam Baydoun, a Wayne County commissioner.

"What would your message be for folks who have read the article and are choosing to believe every word written in that article? asked 7 Action News.

"I'll tell you to come and experience Dearborn for yourself. There have been such inflammatory pieces written about the city as long as I've been alive, especially post-9/11. Dearborn is an example for the rest of America of how diversity strengthens your community," said Hammoud.

The Dearborn and metro Detroit community is calling for an apology and for the article to be retracted. We contacted the Wall Street Journal for comments but have not heard back.