Federal Judge: American Arab Chamber of Commerce Can Be Named as a Defendant in Civil Rights Lawsuit Involving Arrest of Christian Missionaries at Arab Festival

Detroit, Michigan (November 28, 2012) — Yesterday, Federal Judge Stephen J. Murphy III, sitting in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, issued an order, granting the American Freedom Law Center’s (AFLC) request to file a second amended complaint in its civil rights lawsuit brought on behalf of four Christian missionaries who were unlawfully arrested for preaching the Gospel to Muslims at the 2010 Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Michigan.  The order permits AFLC, a nonprofit Judeo-Christian law firm representing the Christians, to amend its lawsuit to name as an additional defendant the American Arab Chamber of Commerce (AACC), which is the organization responsible for the conduct of the Dearborn Arab Festival, an event where the police and festival workers have historically discriminated against Christians.

David Yerushalmi, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, commented: “The detailed allegations of our 100-page civil rights complaint set out a pattern of misconduct that had the purpose and effect of depriving our clients of their fundamental constitutional rights.”  The federal judge agreed with Yerushalmi’s assessment.  In his order granting AFLC’s request to add the AACC as a defendant, the judge stated, “[T]he Court finds that Plaintiffs do properly allege a civil conspiracy among Defendants, including the AACC, to deprive Plaintiffs of their constitutional rights sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss.”

On June 18, 2010, four Christian missionaries, Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, David Wood, Paul Rezkalla, and Negeen Mayel, were thrown in jail by Dearborn police officers for peacefully preaching to Muslims at that year’s annual Arab festival.  The City charged the Christians with “breach of the peace” and ordered them to stand trial.  In September 2010, Robert Muise, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, represented the Christians during a five-day criminal trial.  At the end of the trial, the Christians were acquitted by a unanimous jury verdict. 

Following the acquittals, Yerushalmi and Muise drafted and filed a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Dearborn, its mayor, John B. O’Reilly, its chief of police, Ronald Haddad, 17 City police officers, and two executives from the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, which is now a defendant.  The lawsuit alleges that the Christians’ constitutional rights were egregiously violated during the Arab festival.  The case is in the discovery stage, and a jury trial is currently scheduled for next August.