DEARBORN, Mich., July 27 (UPI) -- Protesters led by a Muslim rallied in Dearborn, Mich., calling for the release of four Christian missionaries arrested for disturbing an Arab American festival.
About 25 people took part in Monday's protest outside city hall organized by Majed Moughni, a Muslim lawyer in Dearborn, saying they were concerned the June 19 arrests during the Arab International Festival harmed the image of Dearborn's Arab Americans and violated the constitutional right to free speech, the Detroit Free Press reported.
"Their arrests never should have happened. We respect the Constitution. No one should be afraid to come here and speak," said Moughni, who is running for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican.
Two of the missionaries said Islam is a violent religion and Christianity is the only true faith, the newspaper said.
The missionaries were attempting to provoke people at the festival to garner attention and raise money for their small group, Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly Jr. said.
He and others noted, as in previous years, there were several other Christian groups at the Arab festival that caused no problems.
Scott Cherry, 45, of Dearborn said the missionaries were misleading the public with edited videos posted on YouTube. The missionaries said on the videos that Christians are oppressed and persecuted in Dearborn.
The four missionaries "didn't tape all the other Christians" at the festival distributing literature, Cherry, a counter-demonstrator, said.