A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Dearborn’s Anti-ISIS Rally


Q: Was there a pro-ISIS rally in Dearborn, Michigan, on Dec. 5?
A: No. Actually, there was an anti-ISIS rally on Dec. 5 in Dearborn. False information about that rally was spread on social media. 

FULL QUESTION

Was there a demonstration in Dearborn, Michigan, 2015-12-05, which flew ISIS flags, and Muslim brotherhood flags?

FULL ANSWER

The Islamic State group, which is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS, is a terrorist group occupying parts of Iraq and Syria. Its goal is to create an Islamic caliphate, or a state governed by sharia, or Islamic law. ISIS claimed responsibility for the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that killed more than 120 people and wounded more than 350.

A rumor circulating on Facebook and Twitter since Dec. 5 claims that Muslim residents of Dearborn, Michigan, held a pro-ISIS march following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, by a U.S.-born Muslim who became radicalized while living in the U.S. and his wife, who was from Pakistan. At least one variation claims that protesters were carrying “ISIS flags.”

Facebook post, Dec. 7: This is Dearborn Michigan after the radical Islamic attack in California! These are Isis flags and Isis supporters folks but the media has not reported because of politically correctness

This is completely false. The media did report on the rally, which wasn’t anything as it was described in that Facebook post.

anti-isis-rally-dearborn-michiganResidents of Dearborn actually held an anti-ISIS march on Dec. 5. Local TV station WXYZ in Detroit reported on the anti-ISIS rally. Hundreds of Arab Americans attended, WXYZ reported. The station’s video report shows demonstrators chanting, “No more ISIS in the world!” Many carried flags or banners — but in opposition to ISIS, not in support of it. One of the signs (above) reads, “99.9% of ISIS victims are Muslims.”

This is not the first time that there has been an anti-ISIS rally in Dearborn. There was also an anti-ISIS rally held there in March, as reported by the Detroit News.dearborn-fake-sign

We at FactCheck.org have received hundreds of anti-Muslim emails over the years regarding Dearborn, including at least 120 this year. Why? It has one of the largest proportions of Arab Americans in the country. According to a 2003 report by the U.S. Census Bureau on the Arab population in the U.S., there were approximately 29,181 Arabs living in Dearborn in 2000 — which amounts to about 30 percent of the city’s total population of 97,775. That is “by far” the largest proportion of Arabs “among places of similar size,” the report said.

For example, we have received a lot of emails over the years that purport to show a church sign (above) in Dearborn that reads: “Allah be praised / America we will kill you all and / nothing you can do to stop it / Allah be praised.” That’s more nonsense.

original-church-signThe original photo (left) comes from a “make your very own church sign” website and has been altered to spread misinformation about Dearborn. The background in both photos is identical — the only difference is that the church name, text on the sign and the symbol above the sign have been altered for the viral claim. The name of the church has been changed from “First Assembly of God” to “Advancement Of Islamic Agenda for America,” and the text on the sign from “Church Sign Maker” to the “Allah be praised” language. The symbol above the sign has been changed from a torch to a star and crescent.

This is just one example. The Daily Beast published a story on Feb. 2 on the many viral claims about Dearborn. It reported that Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly spends a lot of time debunking myths about his city. O’Reilly, for example, told the Daily Beast that he responded to 6,000 emails when, in 2011, Florida preacher Terry Jones voiced bogus claims that Dearborn was under the sway of sharia law and planned a demonstration in that city. Sharia is a code of conduct for all aspects of life that is based on the tenets of Islam and that often influences the legal systems of countries with large Muslim populations.

“The people who perpetuate [these false claims] use it for their own gain,” O’Reilly told the Daily Beast. “There are certain sites and individuals who like to perpetuate fear of Muslims—the people who like to suggest Muslims shouldn’t remain in the U.S.”

About two years ago, Dearborn responded on the city government’s website to an Oct. 27, 2013, article by the satirical website National Report that claimed that Dearborn “became the first U.S. city to officially implement all aspects of Sharia law.” The National Report satire piece was widely circulated on the Internet, and, yes, we received questions about it — including one as recently as Oct. 6 this year.

So, we’ll end with this bit of advice: If you receive a viral email about Muslims in Dearborn, Michigan, delete it.

— Raymond McCormack, with Eugene Kiely

Sources

Karimi, Faith, et al. “San Bernardino shooters were radicalized ‘for quite some time,’ FBI says.” CNN. 7 Dec 2015.

Tharoor, Ishaan. “ISIS or ISIL? The debate over what to call Iraq’s terror group.” Washington Post. 18 June 2014.

BBC. “What is ‘Islamic State’?” 2 Dec 2015.

Callimachi, Rukmini. “ISIS Claims Responsibility, Calling Paris Attacks ‘First of the Storm’.” New York Times. 14 Nov 2015.

Mullen, Jethro, et al. “Terror in Paris: What we know so far.” CNN. 15 Nov 2015.

WXYZ. “Hundreds of people in Dearborn are taking a stand against ISIS and terrorist attacks.” 5 Dec 2015.

Williams, Candice. “100 in Dearborn protest Islamic State terrorism in Iraq.” The Detroit News. 13 Mar 2015.

U.S. Census Bureau. “The Arab Population: 2000.” Dec 2003.

Kaffer, Nancy. “Dearborn, MI: Where Muslims are…Americans.” The Daily Beast. 2 Feb 2015.

WXYZ. “Several arrested as Pastor Terry Jones protests at Dearborn City Hall on Friday.” 29 Apr 2011.

Johnson, Toni and Mohammed Aly Sergie. “Islam: Governing Under Sharia.” Council on Foreign Relations. 25 July 2015.

Wong, Scott. “Mayor to Angle: No ‘sharia law’ here.” Politico. 12 Oct 2010.

Satirical website makes up ‘article’ on sharia law for humor; City of Dearborn not amused by falsehood; sets record straight.” City of Dearborn. Undated.

National Report. “City in Michigan First to Fully Implement Sharia Law.” 27 Oct 2013.