Late Friday evening, a jury of six Dearborn, Michigan residents returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty of breach of the peace charges, which were brought by the Dearborn Police Department against four Christian evangelists as they were peacefully proselytizing to Muslim youths during the Arab International Festival on June 18, 2010.
The Thomas More Law Center, a national Christian public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, represented the evangelists, Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, Paul Rezkalla, Negeen Mayel and David Wood, at no charge. The jury returned its verdict after an hour and half of deliberations. Nageen Mayel was found guilty of failing to obey a police officer—a charge unrelated to the actual incident, which will most likely be reversed on appeal.
Robert Muise, the Law Center’s Senior Trial Counsel, handled the five-day trial. The prosecutor placed seven witnesses on the stand including Chief of Police, Ron Haddad.
Even after the acquittals, Dearborn’s mayor, Jack O’Reilly, continued his ongoing and unprecedented personal attacks on the Christian evangelists, accusing them of being anti–Muslim bigots. O’Reilly’s continuous anti-Christian rhetoric was clearly an attempt to curry favor with Dearborn’s large Muslim population, which also explains the Police Department’s alarming mobilization to arrest the four Christians.
Wood and Dr. Qureshi are co-founders of “Act 17 Apologetics, ” a ministry group that defends the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On June 18, Mayel and Rezkalla joined them in their missionary work. Dr. Qureshi and Mayel are converts from Islam to Christianity. After the verdict, the group praised the Thomas More Law Center and particularly Robert Muise, whom they described as sharing their emotional burdens and investing more time on the issue than even they did. The group claimed that without the Thomas More Law Center, they would not have been able to defend themselves from persecution by the City of Dearborn.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center, commented, “Rob Muise did an outstanding job advocating on behalf of Free Speech rights protected by our Constitution, despite unsubstantiated police claims that peaceful conversations with Muslims were going to incite a disturbance. The bottom line in the jury’s not guilty verdict: the Constitution, not Shariah law, still prevails in Dearborn, Michigan.”
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