US city to apologize for arresting missionaries at Arab event

The city of Dearborn, Mich. Has accepted a court settlement to both publicly apologize and pay restitution to several Christians who were arrested during the Arab International Festival in June 2010.

The American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) announced Tuesday that a settlement between the Dearborn government and Christians Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, David Wood, and Paul Rezkalla was reached after two years of litigation.

The agreement includes a confidential payment and a public apology.

The closing of this civil suit comes after the Christian missionaries were found not guilty of "breaching the peace" during the primarily Islamic Arab International Festival on June 18, 2010.

During the event, Qureshi, Wood and Rezkalla perused the fair ground for the event to videotape interviews with festival revelers.

Their interviews and inter-faith dialogues, which can be seen online, created a scene that led police officers to arrest and jail the missionaries.

Being found not guilty, the missionaries filed a civil lawsuit against Mayor John B. O'Reilly, Police Chief Ronald Haddad, 17 police officers and two executives of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce (Arab Chamber).

In accordance with the settlement, the city of Dearborn will post the following statement for three years on the city's website:

On June 18, 2010, David Wood, Nabeel Qureshi (co-founders of Acts 17 Apologetics) and Paul Rezkalla were arrested by Dearborn police officers at the Dearborn Arab International Festival ("Arab Festival"), while they were engaging in a peaceful dialogue about their Christian faith with several festival attendees. Wood, Qureshi, and Rezkalla were subsequently charged with breach of peace, a misdemeanor offense.

The decision to arrest these individuals was based in part on information provided to the Dearborn police by Arab Festival attendees, workers, and volunteers. When all of the information—including the video captured by Wood, Qureshi, and Rezkalla—was presented to a Dearborn jury, the jury found that these individuals were not guilty of the criminal offense of breach of peace.

The City of Dearborn regrets and apologizes for the decisions to arrest and prosecute David Wood, Nabeel Qureshi, and Paul Rezkalla and the hardship caused to everyone involved.

Through this apology and its acceptance by David Wood, Nabeel Qureshi, and Paul Rezkalla, the parties seek to build a bridge and to confirm to the community that members of all faiths are welcome in Dearborn to peacefully share their views and to engage in religious discussions.

While the civil suit with the city is over, there is still a legal dispute between the missionaries and Arab Chamber in the area.

"As the city itself noted in its apology, Arab Festival volunteers and workers, who were acting under the guidance and direction of the Arab Chamber and its executive director, Fay Beydoun, and pursuant to the chamber's festival 'rules and regulations,' are similarly responsible for the violation of our clients' rights, and we intend to hold them accountable," said David Yerushalmi, co-founder of the AFLC.

An exchange of words and the arrest were recorded on YouTube. (It contains strong language).

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