Detriot Muslims are taking over a Detroit mosque.
And now, a group of radical, anti-immigrant protesters is taking over the city’s mosques.
The Rev. Jamal Farouq, who leads the Detroit chapter of the Muslim American Society, says he’s seen a surge in anti-Muslim sentiment in Detroit.
The Muslim community here is not what it used to be, he said.
And so I think the people who are really hurt are the Muslims who are being hurt.
Farouqu, who said he is Muslim, said he wants to make sure that the mosque that he founded and has been fighting for since 1999 is a safe space.
And that it is, as he put it, a space for dialogue, a place of refuge.
He says the group of protesters has come here to protest the Islamic Center of Detroit.
He’s been there three or four times, and it’s always peaceful.
The protesters have called themselves “counter-protesters,” and they’ve been marching from the mosque, Farouque said.
The group has been occupying the mosque for weeks, and the protesters are threatening to burn it down if the city doesn’t take them down, Faroq said.
But he doesn’t want to see them burn it.
The mosque was built in 1968 by a congregation of people who believed in freedom of worship and believed in Islam as a way to help people to understand their faith and their faith should be protected, he added.
“I’m very concerned about the Muslim community in Detroit and I think there’s a lot of anger out there,” Farouzq said in an interview.
“And there’s just no place in our city that is safe.”
Farouqs family, including his three children, live in the suburbs of Detroit, but he said the group that has taken over the mosque wants to tear it down and move to an area closer to home.
The imam of the mosque has not responded to a request for comment from The Associated Press.
Faroqu said the imam was asked to step down in order to protect the mosque and his congregation, but the iman declined to do so.
He said he believes the protesters should leave the mosque.
“They should leave, they should leave,” he said in the interview.
He described the protesters as young men who are angry at Islam for a long time and believe the United States is “trying to take away the freedoms of Muslims.”
“They are angry because we are a country that wants to be peaceful,” he added in the call.
“If we don’t want this to happen, we need to get to the bottom of this.”
Faroqi said he and his group have been working with the Detroit police to bring them down.
He believes the police are not doing enough to stop the protesters and he believes there is a racial element in the violence.
He also said there is an anti-Semitic element.
Farooq said he has been in contact with the FBI about the case and said he’s not worried that he and the imams family will be targeted for reprisals.
He and his family are also looking into ways to hold people accountable in the future, but said he fears that the group might be targeted in the next wave of attacks.
“It’s not just the mosque,” he told The Associated State of Michigan.
“There are these other people who want to destroy the mosque.”
He said there’s also a “very large anti-government, anti-“American, anti-[immigration] sentiment in this country.
“You have the Tea Party, you have the anti-Obama, anti-‘government,’ you have this type of hatred.”
The group that took over the Detroit mosque said in a statement to The Associated Statesman that the protesters were peaceful.
“The Detroit Islamic Center stands in solidarity with all who are oppressed by American foreign policy,” the statement said.
“As the Islamic Society of Greater Detroit, we are dedicated to promoting freedom, democracy, justice and tolerance.”
Detroit police say the group who is now occupying the Detroit Islamic center have no ties to the mosque or to the police department.
They also said that they are looking into a claim that one of the protesters had been a member of a mosque in Chicago.
But the mosque’s president, Zainab Siddiqui, said that the claim is not accurate.
“We are not affiliated with any mosque,” Siddiqua said.
She said that people who come to the Detroit area to worship and to pray are welcome at the Detroit Mosque.
“People are welcome here and they have a right to worship,” Siddique said.
Faroukq, the imac, said the protesters also have a history of harassing people at other mosques, including the Detroit Institute of Arts.
“This is what happens in our mosques, people are trying to attack people,” he continued.
“When you have people harassing people in your mosque, you should have to defend yourself.”