» Muslims Divided on Presbyterian Easter Egg Hunt

Leaders from Dearborn’s Arab-American community gathered at Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church Sunday morning, showing their support for what they call an event for the entire community that will include an egg hunt and relay race, among other things.

Osama Siblani, local activist and publisher of the Arab American News, said he believes recent news reports of concern over flyers being distributed at a public school in Dearborn for the church’s Eggstravaganza planned for Saturday did not reflect the feelings of the majority of the region’s 46,000 Arab Americans.

“We’re here to support the church as Muslims and Arabs,” he said Sunday morning, standing outside the church’s rear entrance with leaders from the church and the Arab-American community. “We believe the church is doing the right thing bringing the community together, bringing our children together so we can understand each other and love each other.”

Attorney Majed Moughni, who is Muslim and has two young children in Dearborn elementary schools, told the Free Press last week that his children were upset by receiving at school the flyer for Eggstravaganza, which includes images of eggs and a bunny. “My son was like, ‘Dad, I really don’t feel comfortable getting these flyers, telling me to go to church. I thought churches are not supposed to mix with schools,’ ” Moughni had said.

Moughni has said he was concerned about “using school teachers paid by public funds … to pass out these flyers that are being distributed by a church. I think that’s a serious violation of separation of church and state.”

Sunday afternoon, Moughni said he was shocked that so much came from his bringing attention to the matter and said other parents have responded to him through social media supporting his stance.

“I’m standing up for my children,” he said. “My position hasn’t changed.”

Pastor Netta Nichols of Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church said the church has received many e-mails, phone calls and messages through social media both for and against the event, including some she wish she had not seen. She said the church has used the Dearborn schools in the past to get information out to the community. The invitation was meant for everyone — regardless of religious background — as a way of strengthening community ties. The event is the result of a yearlong mission study on the needs of their community.

“I do believe Mr. Moughni’s concern is more with the school system sending out a flyer for an event that’s happening at a church. It’s a surprise it’s become such a major discussion,” Nichols said. “We just want people to get to know each other. This is a changing community, and it has been changing for years. We want to live in an atmosphere of peace and harmony.”

Muslim and Arab-American leaders at the church Sunday said they felt much was made of nothing with regards to the event.

“This ‘lone wolf’ voice does not represent the (Muslim) community,” said attorney Nabih Ayad, chairman of the Arab-American Civil Rights League.

Fatina Abdrabboh, director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said egg hunts are among the memories from her childhood.

The flyer advertises an egg hunt, egg toss and relay race. Siblani noted that the word “Easter” did not appear on the flyer. Nichols said school officials had requested and received edits before the flyer was sent home with students.

Siblani said several Muslim and Arab-American organizations were donating money to help with costs for the event. He said he plans to be there as well.


(c)2014 the Detroit Free Press