US ramps up police presence at Dearborn places of worship after 'jihad capital' op-ed in Wall Street Journal

US ramps up police presence at Dearborn places of worship after 'jihad capital' op-ed in Wall Street Journal
Abdullah Hammoud – the mayor of Dearborn, Michigan in the US – said on Saturday that police would 'ramp up' their presence 'across all places of worship'.
4 min read
05 February, 2024
Dearborn is a city in the US state of Michigan home to large Arab and Muslim populations [Bill Pugliano/Getty-file photo]

A US city with large Arab and Muslim populations is increasing police presence at places of worship after an "inflammatory" opinion piece published by American newspaper The Wall Street Journal.

Abdullah Hammoud – the mayor of Dearborn, Michigan, a city of some 108,000 people – announced the decision on social media on Saturday.

"Effective immediately – Dearborn police will ramp up its presence across all places of worship and major infrastructure points," he said.

He added that the move was a "direct result" of an "inflammatory" The Wall Street Journal opinion piece which had "led to an alarming increase in bigoted and Islamophobic rhetoric online targeting the city of Dearborn".

"Stay vigilant," said Hammoud, a Lebanese American Muslim.

The mayor had earlier on Saturday described as "reckless", "bigoted", and "Islamophobic" an op-ed in the paper headlined: "Welcome to Dearborn, America's jihad capital."

Hammoud said: "It's 2024, and the [Wall Street Journal] still pushes out this type of garbage."

Prominent journalist Mehdi Hasan also hit out at the article on X, formerly Twitter.

"The same right-wing outlets who warn of rising antisemitism, (and, yes, antisemitism is on the rise) have no problem pushing horrendous Islamophobia & anti-Arab bigotry," he said.

"Can you imagine a headline like this about a predominantly Jewish or black area of the US?"

Hasan added: "Shame on" The Wall Street Journal.

The opinion piece, published on Friday, was written by Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

The organisation's president and co-founder Yigal Carmon is a former colonel in Israeli army intelligence.

Stalinsky's op-ed said that "almost immediately" after 7 October, the day Hamas and other Palestinian militants launched a surprise attack on Israel, "people were celebrating the horrific events of that day in pro-Hamas rallies and marches throughout Dearborn".

The attack killed some 1,160 people, news agency AFP found in a tally relying on official numbers.

Since then, Israeli forces have waged a devastating war on Gaza, so far killing 27,365 people in the enclave, its health ministry said on Sunday.

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The International Court of Justice found in January that it was "plausible" Israel was violating the Genocide Convention in the strip.

Following a request for comment from The New Arab on Sunday, Stalinsky responded to Hammoud's social media post "asserting that my WSJ opinion piece has prompted alarming online rhetoric against Dearborn".

Stalinsky said he "would ask the mayor to point out what was incorrect" in his article.

He also asked that Hammoud view a compilation of video clips on MEMRI's website that the organisation said was of comments made by imams and protests in Dearborn and nearby Detroit, Michigan's highest population city.

"It shows shocking anti-US and pro-jihad sermons and marches that are going on openly in his city," Stalinsky said, adding that it "must be pointed out that these events took place in the direct centre of Dearborn".

The MEMRI executive director did not address a question from The New Arab about whether he or The Wall Street Journal was responsible for his opinion piece's headline.

The Wall Street Journal has also been contacted for comment.

Hammoud described Dearborn as "one of the greatest American cities in our nation" on Saturday, adding that it was the fastest growing and most diverse in Michigan.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations advocacy group's Michigan chapter (CAIR-MI) welcomed in a press release the move to increase police presence at places of worship and major infrastructure points in Dearborn.

CAIR-MI executive director Dawud Walid said: "We welcome the proactive approach taken by Mayor Hammoud to protect the Muslim community from potential attack based on the false claims in this inaccurate and inflammatory commentary."