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Dearborn imam confronted ‘Death to America’ protester


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DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. — A Dearborn-area imam says he personally confronted a local protester who chanted slogans such as "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" at a recent rally.

"I am absolutely against saying ‘Death to America,'" Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi told Fox News Digital. "I know in certain countries they may say these things, but I am personally against it even when they say this in any country; doesn’t matter where you say it … because it doesn’t help."

Elahi, who serves as imam at the local Islamic House of Wisdom mosque, spoke out shortly after a controversial rally held the last Friday of Ramadan in nearby Dearborn saw a speaker leading a crowd in chants of "Death to America" and "Death to Israel." Video of the incident sparked national headlines about extremism within the Michigan imam’s local community.

"Imam Khomeini, who declared the International Al-Quds Day, this is why he would say to pour all of your chants and all of your shouts upon the head of America," Tarek Bazzi, a Michigan-based activist associated with the Hadi institute, said in a video from the rally that was shared by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

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Elahi told Fox News Digital that while he did not attend the rally, he had "heard about it," noting that he even confronted one of those who was seen chanting the slogan "loudly" at the event.

"I talked with him and I [expressed] my disappointment because we are not for death, we are for life. We are for love. We are for peace and justice," Elahi said.

Elahi noted that the rally was only a "few people" who chanted the slogan, arguing that those protesters represent a minority of the Dearborn community.

Nevertheless, the Michigan imam said he made sure to speak out against chanting such slogans publicly, including in his Friday prayer service the following week.

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The controversy surrounding the rally comes amid a backdrop of deep resentment toward current U.S. foreign policy among many members of the Arab population in the Dearborn community, who have fiercely argued against the Biden administration’s handling of the conflict in Gaza.

Dearborn, which has the highest per capita Muslim population in the country, became the center of resistance against President Biden's re-election bid as a result of his handling of the conflict, with organizers leading a movement that saw more than 100,000 people mark "uncommitted" on their ballots instead of supporting the president during Michigan’s Democrat primary.

Elahi acknowledged his own frustration with current U.S. policy in Gaza but said he encourages members of his community to peacefully take part in the democratic process instead of using violent rhetoric.

"As a Muslim community, we believe in voting, we believe in outreach," Elahi said.

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The Michigan imam said the Muslim community has many partners in the U.S. who have supported their political efforts, arguing that chants such as those at the Dearborn rally risk alienating those who have "shown sympathy and solidarity with the Muslim community."

"That is very harmful to the cause of our community," Elahi said. "Because when you say this, America means us, people of America, that means that if we have 8 million Muslims, we are America, too. So, this is like kind of self-suicide, and we disagree with that."

Elahi said he encourages those in his community to be "part of the solution rather than part of the problem."

"We did a good job when that happened," Elahi said. "I talked about it; other imams, they talked about that. We talked to the few of those that we knew that they were part of that, and we made sure that our message is very clear to them."

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