Advertisement

Mayor says police presence increased at places of worship after WSJ opinion piece declared his city ‘America’s Jihad capital’

The mayor of Dearborn, Michigan, Abdullah H. Hammoud, said residents can expect an increased police presence “effective immediately” at “all places of worship and major infrastructure points” after a Wall Street Journal opinion piece referred to his city as “America’s Jihad capital.”

The increase of law enforcement in the area is a direct response to a Wall Street Journal opinion piece published Friday, Hammoud said on X, formerly Twitter.

Hammoud said on social media the article “has led to an alarming increase in bigoted and Islamophobic rhetoric online targeting the city of Dearborn.”

Dawud Walid, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan chapter, said the chapter welcomes the mayor’s proactive approach to protecting the Muslim community.

“Those who support the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Gaza are now resorting to smear tactics to prevent Americans from learning the truth about the far-right Israeli government’s brutal actions targeting the Palestinian people,” Walid said in a statement.

The WSJ piece was authored by Steven Stalinsky, director of the Middle East Media Research Institute, which describes itself as an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization.

In the piece, Stalinsky writes Dearborn is teeming with support for Palestinian and Islamist militant groups, including Hamas. He points to rallies, marches and comments made by residents, including religious leaders, to conclude that Dearborn is “America’s Jihad capital.”

Stalinsky also suggests that residents support other militant groups, including Iran-backed Hezbollah and Houthis, and that support for terrorism in southern Michigan has long concerned US officials.

CNN could not independently verify Stalinsky’s claims.

In a statement to CNN, Mayor Hammoud said Saturday, “In response to an Islamophobic, Anti-Arab, and blatantly racist opinion piece published by the Wall Street Journal today, we have increased the presence of law enforcement throughout Dearborn. Dearborn Police continue to monitor social media for threats.”

“This is more than irresponsible journalism. Publishing such inflammatory writing puts our residents at increased risk for harm,” Hammoud added.

Asked about Hammoud’s criticism of his opinion piece, Stalinsky told CNN: “I would ask the mayor to point out what was incorrect,” and reiterated much of what he laid out in WSJ.

CNN has reached out to Dearborn police and WSJ for comment.

Wayne County Commissioner David Knezek said in a Facebook post he was “deeply disturbed” by the characterization of Dearborn in the opinion piece.

“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,” Knezek said. “I am grateful for Mayor Abdullah H. Hammoud, his leadership, and the leadership of all the city’s elected officials.”

President Joe Biden on Sunday seemingly weighed in on the issue, calling on Americans to “condemn hate in all forms.”

“Americans know that blaming a group of people based on the words of a small few is wrong,” Biden said in a post on X. “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.”

Dearborn is home to one of the largest Arab American communities in the United States, CNN previously reported.

In 2021, Hammoud, the son of Lebanese immigrants, was elected as the city’s first Arab American mayor, an achievement he called “a humbling experience.”

“It’s humbling that in this town, people are willing to vote for someone based on the direction in which they lead, not in the direction in which they pray,” Hammoud said at the time. “It’s humbling because it shows that someone like me, who has a name like Abdullah Hussein Hammoud, doesn’t have to change or shy away from their identity to achieve success.”

This story has been updated with additional information, including a response from Steven Stalinsky.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com