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Chaldean Dearborn Michigan Resident Freedom Stripped
By Sam Yousif :: Friday, June 26, 2009 :: 99281 Views :: Article Rating :: Law & Order, Government & Society

Michigan, USA – Chaldeans are outraged at the city of Dearborn and the Dearborn police department.  “The police and city officials are cowards,” said a disgusted Yousif Salem.  “They are afraid to defend the rights of this great country and their weakness shames every real American.  I am an American citizen and my rights were stripped away because they are afraid.  The Dearborn police and city are cowards.  Arabs in Iraq and Iran are risking their lives for freedom and in Dearborn Michigan, American born wimps run and hide like cowards.”

Salem’s outrage comes on the heel of a court ruling prohibiting his friends from passing out Christian literature at the Dearborn Arab International festival.  The 14th annual Dearborn Arab International Festival is expected to draw tens of thousands of visitors Friday through Sunday to the city that has the Detroit area's greatest concentration of Arab-Americans.

“We are upset with festival organizers.  They have now tainted this once beautiful cultural festival as being un-American,” says Salem.  “They are hurting Islamic Arabs as well as Christian Arabs by having the group thrown out.  This is not good for Arab and American relations.  There is only so much more Americans will take from these radicals in their own country.” 

For half a decade the Arab Christian Perspectives (ACP) has had a presence at the Dearborn Arab International Festival without any problems or incidents. This year, however, for the first time, Dearborn police imposed on the ACP restrictions on where it could hand out leaflets at this free, open-to-the-public event.

Founder of ACP and Sudanese Arab Pastor George Saieg and his volunteers routinely visit Dearborn, Michigan, to minister to Muslims and Islamic converts. An estimated 30,000 of Dearborn's 98,000 residents are Muslims.  Saieg’s website, details the groups effort and services to Muslims.

In lieu of the group’s freedom of expression, festival organizer Fay Beydoun said the Christian group was being offered a booth with other religious, nonprofit and political groups.

“Dearborn police told them that they were not allowed to leave the booth to pass out literature or approach anyone who did not approach them,” says Salem. 

The Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Dearborn's policy and seeking a court order allowing the group to wander the festival grounds freely to pass out literature.  U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds denied the Law Center’s motion on behalf of the Christian group.  The Law Center reports that case will still go forward as the plaintiffs seek a permanent injunction for future events, but for this weekend’s event they will have to comply with the rules.

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Ann Arbor-based Thomas More Law Center, says Dearborn police told the Christian Group there would be restrictions on where he could conduct their activities. "They said, 'We're not going to allow you to walk the streets with your group. You're going to have to be in one place. And people would have to approach you for your ability to pass out literature,'" he points out.
Thompson said after several failed attempts to convince officials to change their minds, Saieg and his group complied with the restrictions.  Dearborn officials say anyone is free to have conversations — but not leaflet — on sidewalks within the festival's barricades.

"It appears to be a legitimate governmental interest for crowd control and safety," Edmunds said in denying the request. "The festival area is more akin to a fair than a normal city street."

William J. Becker Jr., a Los Angeles attorney who has represented a number of prominent critics of Islam says that the Dearborn officials action could be part of what he described as a broader Muslim legal attack on critics of Islam in our "Judeo-Christian nation” Becker says, "Muslims are using the courts in this country to stop our free speech rights."

Becker added that the case is similar to one he handled in Los Angeles, in which Jews for Jesus member Cyril Gordon won about $250,000 after being arrested for trespassing in 2006 outside an Israel Independence Day event in a park.

"This is a case where your right, my right and anybody's right to walk down the street and express their views is being disrupted by a police action," he said.

An official of the Council of American-Islamic Relations said Arabic Christian Perspective was asking for special treatment.   "They should abide by the rules and purchase a booth like the other religious groups," said Dawud Walid, executive director of the group's Michigan chapter. "Christians can talk about Christianity and Muslims can promote Islam. This is the right we have as Americans."

Others see a more organized attack on American Rights by Muslim groups.  ACT! for America (, a Florida based group sent tens of thousands of e-mails warning Americans of a growing internal threat to freedoms.  In the e-mail the group details, “In the past three months a Delray Beach Marriott abruptly and unilaterally canceled an event designed to educate people about the threat of radical Islam; the Loews Hotel in Nashville did the same thing; and now, after five years without problems, the ACP has its free speech rights denied.”

Salem says that in the city of Hamtramck, just east of Dearborn Americans showed Arabs how accepting they are by allowing the Muslim call to prayer be allowed.  “Five times a day through loud speakers from Islamic Mosques, prayers to Allah are freely allowed and tolerated.  But you let a Christian hand out literature to a Muslim and they threaten with riot.”

Salem is asking all his friend and family to call the city of Dearborn officials and ask them to resign.  “The mayor and city council need to be resigned or recalled.  All of them who allowed this to happen should be voted out.  We need a new police chief too.  We need government leaders who will defend our constitution. That is why I came to this country and that is the oath they took.”

Calls to the City of Dearborn by regarding Salems effort and dissatisfaction to this incident went unanswered.

Readers wishing to learn more about the issue can call Dearborn city officials or ACP.  Contact information for both organizations is listed below: 

Dearborn City Mayor
Mayor John Oreilly, 313.943.2300,

Dearborn City Council
President, Thomas P. Tafelski 313.943.2405
Nancy A. Hubbard,  313.943.2403 
Doug Thomas, 313.943.2407
Suzanne Sareini, 313.943.2404,
Mark Shooshanian, 313.943.2406,
Robert A. Abraham, 313.943.2408,
George T. Darany, 313.943.2402,

(714) 533-6659,
Pastor George Said,

comment @ Wednesday, July 1, 2009 7:11 AM
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St. Thomas, MI USA

St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church
6900 Maple Rd.
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
Tel: (248) 788-2460
Fax: (248) 788-2153

Founding Pastor:
Rev. Hanna Cheikho

Current Pastor:
Rev. Frank Kalabat

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes, Retired  

Rev. Frank Kalabat

Rev. Frank Kalabat was born in 1970 in San Diego, California and entered St. Francis Seminary of San Diego, California.  The admission to the Catholic seminary made him the first born U.S. Chaldean to enter an American seminary.  In 1992, Fr. Kalabat continued his studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.  In July 1995, shortly after graduation he was ordained as priest by His Excellency Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim.  

Fr. Frank chose Mother of God Parish in Southfield, MI. as his first assignment serving the Chaldean community as an associate pastor for half a decade.  In 2001, Fr. Kalabat was elected to serve as Pastor of St. Tomas Parish in West Bloomfield, Michigan where he remains today.   

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1942. Upon graduation Fr. Abrahim was admitted to St. Peter Chaldean Seminary in Baghdad, Iraq.  After a decade of studies and numerous degrees, Fr. Abrhim was ordained a priest in 1967.  He chose to continue ministering in Baghdad, Iraq.  There he was appointed the headmaster of the catechism at Mother of Sorrows Cathedral.  Fr. Abrahim also assisted St. Therese Church in Baghdad until 1978.  Afterward he was asked to assist St. Joseph Church in Baghdad and was appointed Parochial Vicar from 1978-1992. 

In 1992, Fr. Abrahim was called upon to assist the growing Chaldean population in Michigan.  Upon his arrival he was assigned to St. Joseph Church in Tory, Michigan.  Two years later Fr. Abrahim was asked to become the pastor of a Parish community in Windsor, Canada  where he remained the parish pastor until 2001.

Continuing demographic changes in Michigan required Fr. Abrahim to return to St. Joseph Parish in Tory as a Parochial Vicar, where he remained until 2006.  In 2006 he was elected to St. Thomas Parish as Parochial Vicar in West Bloomfield, MI. where he currently serves the Chaldean community.


Rev. Emmanuel Rayes

Rev. Emmanuel Rays was born in Araden, Iraq in 1930.  He studied at St. John Dominican Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954.  The Chaldean catholic ambassador ministered in northern Iraq from 1954-1963, in Syria and Lebanon from 1963-1980, and in the United Stated from 1980 to the present day.
Form 1980-1983, he was appointed associate pastor at Mother of God Parish in Southfield, Michigan.  From 1983-1989 he served as pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit, Michigan.  During the early 1990’s he ministered to the Chaldean community in Farmington Hills and was at St. Joseph Parish in Tory where he was Parochial Vicar until 2000.

Although Fr. Rayes retired in 2001, he remains active in serving the community.  He is the author of many articles in Arabic and is the editor-in-chief of the Al Mishal and Al-Tariq magazine.  He has translated and continues to translate many books from French and English into Arabic.