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Democrats defend Dearborn after op-ed calls Michigan city 'America’s Jihad Capital'

Michigan's two U.S. senators both said the opinion piece was "wrong," although neither said what specifically was wrong in the column.

Published: February 4, 2024 3:53pm

Democrats, including President Joe Biden, are defending Dearborn, Mich., and criticizing The Wall Street Journal after the paper published an opinion piece criticizing the town for hosting anti-Israel and anti-American protests and having prominent citizens who have vocally supported terrorism. 

The Journal published the column Friday titled, "Welcome to Dearborn, America’s Jihad Capital," which details how almost immediately after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,200 people and the kidnappings of 250 others, Dearborn residents began marching in protest against Israel. 

The column, written by Middle East Media Research Institute Executive Director Steven Stalinsky, also points out how after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Michigan State Police cited how the city was a "major financial support center" for terrorism, and how after the Oct. 7 attack, multiple Dearborn imams celebrated. Stalinsky also said that more recently, the town hosted an event in memory of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps terrorist group who was assassinated by the U.S.

Additionally, the opinion piece points out how Democrats are facing a problem in Michigan, a major swing state, after Muslim voters pledged to mobilize against Biden in 2024 over his support for Israel

"What’s happening in Dearborn isn’t simply a political problem for Democrats. It’s potentially a national-security issue affecting all Americans. Counterterrorism agencies at all levels should pay close attention," Stalinsky concluded the opinion column. 

Numerous Democrats have criticized the piece as being hateful and for cherry-picking a few extreme examples from Dearborn, where more than half of the city's residents are Muslim. 

"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," Biden wrote Sunday on X, formerly Twitter. "We must continue to condemn hate in all forms."

Michigan's two U.S. senators, Democrats Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, both said the opinion piece endangered the Dearborn community and was "wrong," although neither said what specifically was wrong in the article.

Both Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson condemned hatred and said that Dearborn has a "vibrant" community.

Other Michigan Democrats who condemned the column include Reps. Debbie Dingell, Haley Stevens and Elissa Slotkin

Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud said Saturday on X that as a "direct result of the inflammatory" Journal opinion piece, the city would increase its police presence at religious institutions. 

Hammoud has made numerous anti-Israel posts on his X account since Oct. 7. On the day of the terrorist attack, when portions of Israel were still under the control of terrorists and casualties were unclear, Hammoud blamed Israel for the attack.

"Israel’s decades of illegal military occupation and imprisonment of Gaza make peace impossible and tragic violence inevitable," he wrote on X at the time. "Ending this violence requires ending the occupation."

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on X or Instagram.

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