One News NowCharlie Butts and Chad Groening
Four missionaries arrested at an Arab festival in Dearborn, Michigan, have been arraigned.
The missionaries have appeared each year of the Annual Arab International Festival, but this year police moved in and arrested them and confiscated a camera from one member was using to film the arrests. Detroit television station WXYZ was on hand for the arraignment and talked to one of the accused, Nabeel Qureshi.
"Our policy...as we were going through the festival [was] to allow the people to approach us," he explains. "So we did not approach anyone to avoid charges of harassing."
All four are charged with disturbing the peace, but 18-year-old Nageen Mayel, a recent convert from Islam to Christianity, was also charged with refusing to obey a police officer's order to stop filming. "I was scared," she told WXYZ-TV. "There was no reason for them to approach me, so my immediate reaction was fear of the unknown and why they were doing it."
All four missionaries plead not guilty today. They are represented by Robert Muise of the Thomas More Law Center, who points to the Constitution.
"If people are offended by the fact that they were preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to Muslims and trying to convert Muslims -- well, guess what, we have a First Amendment," Muise points out. "This is a free society. It's not a police state."
As the four apparently head to trial, the Law Center is preparing a civil suit to be filed against the city.