Dearborn agrees to settlement with missionaries

Missionaries had sued, saying rights were violated with arrests at Arab festival in 2010

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DEARBORN, Mich. - A Detroit suburb has agreed to apologize and pay an undisclosed amount of money to a group of Christian missionaries arrested in 2010 at an Arab cultural festival.

The American Freedom Law Center had sued Dearborn on behalf of a group of missionaries called Acts 17 Apologetics who said their rights were violated when they were arrested at the Arab International Festival. The missionaries later were acquitted.

Terms of the settlement were announced Monday.

Dearborn, which has large Arab-American and Muslim populations, must post an apology on its website for three years and take other steps.

Mayor John O'Reilly says the apology allows the city to move forward.

The law center says its clients have been vilified for simply exercising their constitutional right to evangelize on a public street.

The city's public apology is as follows: 

On June 18, 2010, David Wood, Nabeel Qureshi (co-founders of Acts 17 Apologetics) and Paul Rezkalla were arrested by Dearborn police officers at the Dearborn Arab International Festival ("Arab Festival"), while they were engaging in a peaceful dialogue about their Christian faith with several festival attendees. Wood, Qureshi, and Rezkalla were subsequently charged with breach of peace, a misdemeanor offense.

The decision to arrest these individuals was based in part on information provided to the Dearborn police by Arab Festival attendees, workers, and volunteers. When all of the information -- including the video captured by Wood, Qureshi, and Rezkalla --was presented to a Dearborn jury, the jury found that these individuals were not guilty of the criminal offense of breach of peace.

The City of Dearborn regrets and apologizes for the decisions to arrest and prosecute David Wood, Nabeel Qureshi, and Paul Rezkalla and the hardship caused to everyone involved.

Through this apology and its acceptance by David Wood, Nabeel Qureshi, and Paul Rezkalla, the parties seek to build a bridge and to confirm to the community that members of all faiths are welcome in Dearborn to peacefully share their views and to engage in religious discussions.

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