Several members of Detroit’s Arab American community are standing in solidarity with the Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church in Dearborn after a Muslim father of two elementary school students said he believed flyers distributed at the schools to promote an upcoming Easter egg hunt violated the separation of church and state.
Attorney Majed Moughni said his two children were bothered the school’s involvement in publicizing the Eggstravaganza, but several Muslims in the area made it clear Sunday that Moughni doesn’t speak for the majority of the region’s 46,000 Arab-Americans, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Among them was Osama Siblani, who publishes the Arab American News. In an opinion piece posted after media accounts of Moughni were widely circulated, Sablani’s newspaper said:
“The truth is that almost all Muslim parents in Dearborn are not offended at all by the flyer. They are concerned about funding for their children's schools, education standards and class size, just like all parents.
“Moughni was seeking attention, and [the media] rewarded his efforts, without ever reaching out to other parents, religious leaders, or civil rights groups.”
The story also criticized media for quoting only Moughni, but writing there were others who believed similarly.
On Sunday, Siblani and others gathered with church leaders in a show of unity.
“We’re here to support the church as Muslims and Arabs,” he said Sunday morning, standing outside the church’s rear entrance with leaders from the church and the Arab-American community. “We believe the church is doing the right thing bringing the community together, bringing our children together so we can understand each other and love each other.”
Sablani pointed out that that the word “Easter” never appears on the flyer for the event, which Cherry Hill church officials have promoted as a way to bring the community together.
Another member of the group, attorney Nabih Ayad, chairman of the Arab-American Civil Rights League, called Moughni “a lone wolf.”
The Rev. Netta Nichols said the Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church has worked with Dearborn schools in the past to get information out to the community, regardless of religious background. She said that as Dearborn becomes more diverse, it’s important that people get to know one another.
“This is a changing community, and it has been changing for years,” Nichols said. “We want to live in an atmosphere of peace and harmony.”
Moughni told the newspaper his position hasn’t changed.
“I’m standing up for my children,” he said.