Issues, Opinion

A Qu’ran-Burning Pastor, A Protest and Me

15 Comments 10 June 2011

By Samira Maatouk

Unis Middle School

I was a little excited when I went to City Hall on April 29 to watch Rev. Terry Jones give a speech about Arabs. Jones is a preacher from Florida who made national news by talking about burning the Qu’ran. I think he wanted to get attention and make Arab Americans mad.

I had seen newspaper stories about him. I wanted to go to the protest because I thought it would be an interesting story.

Originally Jones, 62, wanted to burn a Qu’ran in front of a mosque. But the city of Dearborn said that he was not allowed to hold a rally in front of the mosque because it is private property. So he decided to rally in front of City Hall. Some Arab Americans decided to protest Jones’ appearance.

My Mom took me because she also wanted to see what happened. “I felt like I had to go to the protest to support the cause because I didn’t feel like what he was doing was right,” my Mom, Theresa Maatouk, said. “I felt like he was trying to cause problems between religions.”

When my Mom and I got to City Hall, there were lots of other people from Dearborn, mostly Arab Americans, waiting to hear him talk. There also were reporters with cameras. Police were everywhere, too. I saw some on the roof of the bank across from City Hall. My Mom thought they were snipers, ready to shoot people if things got out of control.

Jones was already talking when we arrived. He was comparing himself to Martin Luther King Jr. He was trying to make a point about the Qu’ran, even though he’s never read it. He thinks that it teaches us to do things that are bad. The Qu’ran doesn’t teach us to do bad things.

I’ve never read the Quran, either. But my Mom and Dad have taught me about it.

Jones had a microphone. He had these two people on the sides of him. One was holding a sign that said Obama was the worst president ever. Another had a sign that said, “Ban Sharia law in the USA.”

I don’t think Obama is the worst president ever. He’s a good one.

I don’t really know what Sharia law is. I’m Muslim, but in my family the kids don’t talk about Sharia law. My Mom and Dad probably talk about it. I don’t know.

The Arabic people watching Jones had there shoes in the air, getting ready to throw them. In Arabic culture, shoes are considered dirty. Throwing a shoe at someone is like insulting that person. Terry Jones left the City Hall steps and walked onto the lawn, approaching the protesters across the street. He wanted us to pledge allegiance to the flag with him.

The protesters were screaming in Arabic and English. I wasn’t screaming. I was just watching. When someone knocked over a wooden police barrier blocking the protesters, everyone was running over to Terry Jones’ side of the street. They were throwing shoes at him, plus drinks, food — anything that they could find they threw at him.

Then the SWAT team, they came to protect him. When the protesters crossed the street, I stayed by the bank. My Mom said it would be dangerous to run out.

Then I was kind of scared. Someone might have had a gun. If they had shot somebody, the person could have died and I didn’t want to see that.

I didn’t see what happened to Jones, but people thought he had left so they started going home. My Mom and I left, too. Later, we saw stories about the protest on TV.

I asked my Mom about Sharia law. She said, “It’s the rules that Muslims live by. It’s like the Bible’s Ten Commandments.”

When I asked my Mom what she thought about Jones and his impact, she said, “I think he’s pushing us together. He’s not getting what he wanted. He wanted to push us apart and have all the religions against each other. I’m proud to live in a place where we can all get along.”

I think Jones just came to Dearborn to get attention. He knew that he would get attention because he was talking about Arabic people. And Arabic people, they don’t like people talking about them, especially when they’re saying things that aren’t true. We don’t like that.

My friends and I, we didn’t talk too much about Jones and the protest. We mostly talk about what happened in school, and things that we do like track, basketball, swimming. My sister is a cheerleader.

It’s fun being Arab American because you can speak two languages. People think we’re terrorists because of 9/11 but we’re not.

Jones is talking about coming back to Dearborn for the Arabic Festival this summer.

 

Your Comments

15 Comments so far

  1. Nathan says:

    It’s great to hear that you were involved in your community and went out to the protest! Keep being an active citizen; you’re doing great!!

    Thanks for the update on the life of the average Arab American teenager.

  2. Mary Beth says:

    That protest sounds like it was terrifying! I live in Livonia and heard about Jones on the news. I hope he stops trying to spread his hatred and lies in our community. He should just keep all that stuff to himself.

  3. Samira Maatouk says:

    Dear Nathan,
    Thank you for taking time to read my story. Also Thanks you, for commenting. I hope you liked my story.

    Sincerly,
    Samira Maatouk!(:

  4. Samira Maatouk says:

    Dear Mary,
    It kind of sounded more terrifying than it was. When i went to city hall, that was terrifying, but thank god nothing really bad happened, like someone getting shot and things like that. Thank you for taking time to read my story. I hope you liked it!

    Sincerly,
    Samira Maatouk!(:

  5. April Kincaid says:

    Great job Samira! You walked us through your experience in a way that I felt I was there. Thanks for also including your opinions, it gave us Non-Muslims a feel for how you were affected by the protest. You handled yourself professionally, two thumbs up!

  6. Samira Maatouk says:

    Thank you!(:

  7. Houssein ajrouche 7th says:

    i never knew about the people on the building. I think that was a great issue

  8. zahraa saleh says:

    I really felt like i was right there watching Tarry Jones speak. I loved how she really gave details like when she said “Terry Jones left the City Hall steps and walked onto the lawn, approaching the protesters across the street.” She basically wrote a video! How cool=)! It’s a very interesting topic to talk about and i first thought “aagh it’s to long” but after i finished reading the first sentence i couldn’t get my eyes off of the computer! GREAT WRITING!

  9. Diana- 4th says:

    Samira what you all said was so true, we should all be great citizens and ignore imattures !

  10. Fatima Jomaa 4th says:

    great job on everything !!!!!!!

  11. Sara says:

    Amazing job! Mrs.Kincaid you are an amazing teacher :D

  12. Samira Maatouk says:

    Thank you guys for commenting and thanking time to read my story and comment!♥

  13. i luuuuuuvvvvvv thissssss,,,,, and samira ,GREAT STORYYYY<3

  14. zeina slim says:

    I’m really happy and proud and I hope that all Arab-American teenagers start to be involved in their community issues.
    Great experience!

  15. rangis says:

    i luv the story and I think it’s true what Samira said about us being great citizens.


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Unis Middle School

Unis School serves grades K-8 in the Dearborn Public School District. The school principal is Heyam Alcodray. These are its beliefs about education:

  • A student's highest potential includes improvements academically, artistically, emotionally and socially.
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  • Good instruction is assessment-driven, outcomes-based, active, and engaging.
  • Effective instruction touches the world of each student providing for different learning styles and needs.
  • Education is a life-long process that prepares students to be successful, contributing citizens in a changing world.

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