Muslims in Dearborn, Mich., were once again targeted for their beliefs on Friday when a group of protesters calling themselves the “Bible Believers” confronted celebrants at the city’s annual Arab International Festival with a pig’s head on a spike and signs decrying Islam as a false religion, the Detroit Free Press reports.
In addition to the pig’s head – presumably intended to offend observant Muslims, who do not eat pork – Bible Believers reportedly carried signs calling Islam “a religion of blood and murder” and describing the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a “liar,” “false prophet,” “murderer” and “child molesting pervert.”
Dearborn, which has the nation’s highest concentration of Arab-Americans and whose population is one-third Muslim, has in recent years become a favorite destination for anti-Muslim activists seeking the spotlight. Pamela Geller of Stop Islamization of American (SIOA) staged an ersatz “human rights conference” there in April, and Koran-burning pastor Terry Jones, who runs the anti-gay, anti-Muslim Dove World Outreach Center, visited last April to tell a few dozen supporters – and an estimated 600 counter-protestors – that Islam is “of the devil.”
This year marked the Bible Believers’ second appearance at Dearborn’s Arab International Festival. In 2011, several counter-protesters were arrested for throwing water bottles, trash and shoes at the group while its members – bearing signs calling Islam a “religion of murder” and calling on Muslims to “repent” – stood in the festival’s free speech zone. No arrests were made this year, the Dearborn Patch reports, though two festival attendees were detained and cited for disorderly contact.
Bible Believers is headed by Ruben Israel Chavez, a self-described “street preacher” from Los Angeles who runs the website Official Street Preachers, on which he rails against “homo sex,” Mormons, “drunkards,” Mardi Gras, “Pot Smoking Devils,” Billy Graham, and Oprah Winfrey, among others.
On the site, Chavez describes himself and like-minded preachers as God’s mouthpieces and “vessels to the public.” He writes, “When I preach it will offend people and that does not concern me in the lest [sic], for my goal in life, my core reason of why I do what I do, is not to offend a holy God.”
According to his biography, Chavez founded Bible Believers in the 1980s to focus on “confrontational evangelism and home Bible studies.” Today, he says, the group has over 40 chapters nationwide.