Michigan mayor calls for increased security in response to Wall Street Journal op-ed

DETROIT — A Michigan mayor ordered increased police patrols in the city over the weekend after an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal labeled the city as "America's Jihad Capital."

After the opinion piece was published Friday, Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud said police would ramp up their presence "effective immediately" in places of worship and major infrastructure points. Hammoud, the city's first Muslim and Arab American mayor, alerted the community to the opinion piece Saturday afternoon on X, formerly Twitter.

Hammoud cautioned residents to be vigilant and said the decision was a result of the opinion piece that has "led to an alarming increase in bigoted and Islamophobic rhetoric online targeting" the city.

"This is more than irresponsible journalism. Publishing such inflammatory writing puts Dearborn residents at increased risk for harm," Hammoud told the Free Press, part of the USA TODAY Network, on Saturday evening.

Hate crimes across the United States reached record levels in 2023, according to preliminary data released in January from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University. At least 2,184 hate crimes were reported in major U.S. cities last year, which included the surge of anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim incidents amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

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US leaders support Dearborn following Wall Street Journal opinion piece

The Wall Street Journal opinion piece titled, "Welcome to Dearborn, America's Jihad Capital" was authored by Steven Stalinsky, an American commentator on Middle Eastern terrorism who has served as the executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to international media analysis, since 1999.

It had come just one day after Dearborn residents hosted a protest of President Joe Biden's visit to the area on Thursday, criticizing the Biden administration for its response to the war. On Sunday, Biden and other political leaders came to the defense of Dearborn.

"Americans know that blaming a group of people based on the words of a small few is wrong. That’s exactly what can lead to Islamophobia and anti-Arab hate, and it shouldn’t happen to the residents of Dearborn – or any American town," Biden posted on X. "We must continue to condemn hate in all forms."

Other political leaders, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, and U.S. Senator Gary Peters also posted messages of support for Dearborn on Sunday.

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Other local, state leaders also respond

Dearborn Heights Mayor Bill Bazzi took to social media Saturday to notify members that the neighboring community is also on watch.

"As Mayor of the Dearborn Heights, which neighbors the City of Dearborn, I am both perplexed and appalled by the Wall Street Journal’s false derogatory term used to describe the City of Dearborn as the 'Jihad Capital,'" Bazzi said. "The people of the City of Dearborn, along with the City of Dearborn Heights, and all its neighboring cities are placed in peril when hateful misinformation is disseminated in mainstream media."

Michigan Senate Majority Whip Mallory McMorrow said she refused to amplify the hateful rhetoric used in the article. Other state leaders, including Wayne County Commissioner David Knezek, posted in support of Hammoud, touting his leadership in bringing the community together.

"Rather than uplift the WSJ's divisive and dangerous language, I wanted to remind people of the beautiful and wonderful city that I and countless others know the City of Dearborn to be. I am grateful for Mayor Abdullah H. Hammoud, his leadership and the leadership of all the city's elected officials — I will always stand strong in support of our neighbors," Knezek wrote on social media Saturday afternoon.

In another post, Hammoud noted Dearborn's several accomplishments as a community in Michigan, calling it the fastest-growing city; a top travel destination; a coffee, food, and culture capital; and one of the most diverse cities.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Wall Street Journal op-ed called Dearborn 'America's Jihad Capital'