Four Christian missionaries who were arrested at Dearborn's Arab American Festival were arraigned Monday on misdemeanor charges of disturbing the peace.
Charged were Negeen Mayel, Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, Paul Rezkalla and David Wood Mayel, all members of a group called "Acts 17 Apologetics."
Negeen Mayel faces an additional charge of disobeying an officer.
They all pleaded not guilty.
The four were arrested on June 18 while handing out Christian literature and videotaping themselves.
The group said they were arrested over religion, but police insist that it's not true, and continue to stand behind their arrest. Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly defends his police department's arrest, saying he saw the video police confiscated from them and he believes the missionaries came into town to cause trouble.
Reilly said the video shows the group's ulterior motive, which was to seek out Arabs in the crowd and try to rile them up by preaching to them.
"They look for a mark. They look for someone they know is going to be agitated with, for someone who is going to be engaged in a very heated way, and use that to draw a crowd," said Reilly.
Reilly said they use the videotape of the angry Arabs to solicit donations from other Christians to fund their missionary operation around the country.
"That is absolutely not true. We were not looking for a confrontation. We were looking for dialogue and discussion," said Qureshi.
The four missionaries came into town for the festival. They are from California, New York and Virginia.
Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said the four were not arrested for religious reasons, but because they did not follow the festival's rules, which were that religious groups could only hand out material in designated areas after paying for booth space.
Defense attorneys argued in court Monday that the group did nothing wrong and that their arrest violates their constitutional rights of freedom of speech and religion.
"The people are offended by the fact that they are preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Muslims and trying to covert Muslims, well guess what, we have a First Amendment," said Robert Muise of Ann Arbor.
Muise said he wants a breakdown of the charges.
The videotapes are being used as evidence, but city attorneys said the cameras and videos would be returned to the missionaries this week.
The defendants will be in court on Aug. 3 for a motion hearing.
Trial is set to begin Sept. 20
When asked if Negeen Mayel was afraid of going to trial and she said no, "because God is with me."