DETROIT — Imams from across Metro Detroit will meet Wednesday in Dearborn Heights to discuss a spate of vandalism in the Warrendale area. Many local Muslims who are originally from Iraq believe they may have been targeted.

While community leaders stress that until the perpetrators of the damage are identified and interviewed, it is unclear whether divided opinions in the Muslim and Arab communities over the execution of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, or the war in Iraq generally, have led to the vandalism.

But it is clear that many Shi’a Muslims, who emigrated from Iraq to Metro Detroit in the early 1990s, during the Gulf War, believe they have been targeted because some in their community celebrated Saddam’s hanging, despite criticism of the timing and conduct of the execution throughout the wider Arab and Muslim worlds and even among Europeans, President Bush and members of his administration.

Many Iraqi immigrants in Metro Detroit have been ardent supporters of the overthrow, arrest and execution of Saddam, in part because many had family members who were killed, tortured and imprisoned under his regime.

Other Muslims and people of Arab descent have been less supportive of the war, and many decried the scheduling of Saddam’s execution on what some considered the first day of Eid al-Adha, which is among the holiest festivals on the Islamic calendar. As was the case throughout much of the Arab world, no small number of people of Arab descent in Metro Detroit said the trial of Saddam and the taunting of him by those intended to guard his execution had made him appear a target of sectarian revenge — rather than a brutal, criminal dictator.

The half-dozen businesses that were damaged over the weekend are owned by Shi’a Muslims and the two mosques damaged are attended largely by the Shi’a.

Dawud Walid, of the Council on American Islamic Relations, said that 12 to 15 imams, Muslim clergymen, are expected to attend the closed meeting at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights on Wednesday.

“We will discuss the issues, keep everyone in the community calm and preach the message of unity to our congregations this Friday,” Walid said.

CAIR and the Muslim Shura Council of Southeastern Michigan have asked the FBI to investigate the vandalism as possible hate crimes, directed at the Shi’a Iraqi community.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.