A curfew conspiracy in Dearborn? Creeping Shariah? Nope

Neal Rubin
The Detroit News

If you respond to the silliness, the silly people spreading the silly stories get more publicity.

If you don’t respond, some otherwise non-silly people might start taking the silly stories as fact.

That’s probably the less attractive option. So let it be known that police in Dearborn are not “enforcing a Shariah-compliant curfew,” as one fevered website put it.

They are not forcing non-Muslims to adhere to Muslim hours or customs during Ramadan, the holy month that ends July 17.

Falafel remains strictly optional. So do pulled pork sandwiches and Jim Beam, if those are more your preference.

And silliness can be had in abundance with a few clicks on your keyboard:

“Muslim police chief to enforce Shariah-compliant curfew during month of Ramadan … even on Christians.”

Um, not exactly.

This much is true: an ordinance in Dearborn decrees that “No minor under the age of 17 years shall loiter, idle or congregate upon any public street, highway, alley, park or in any public place in the city” between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. most days, or 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Also true: The Dearborn ordinance is based on a state law that has nothing to do with Shariah, Muslims, falafel, pulled pork or Jim Beam, and has everything to do with keeping kids out of trouble.

Which, I suppose, means it has a bit to do with Jim Beam — but not with anybody’s religion.

“It’s frustrating,” says Mary Laundroche, Dearborn’s public information director. “The inaccuracies are just very frustrating.”

And silly — which is a polite way of saying stupid.

Keeping an eye on the kids

Police chief Ronald Haddad says he doesn’t know how the latest wave of silliness started.

It’s become almost commonplace where Dearborn is concerned, particularly among the kind of silly people who refer to the city as “Dearbornistan.”

Every so often, an attention-starved politician, a pseudo-preacher or a fringe website starts thundering about Shariah law overtaking the city, which does in fact have more than 30,000 residents of Arabic descent amid a population most recently tallied at 98,153.

Never mind that Christian churches outnumber the six mosques in Dearborn by about 9 to 1, or that the culinary delights of the city include bacon cheeseburgers served in strip joints.

Silly people make silly accusations anyway, and then other silly people post messages to Haddad like, “Who do you think you are … HITLER ... your actions are illeagle sir. i hope and pray as a christian that the American people rebel and tear your town appart.”

Haddad doesn’t even recall commenting on the curfew last month, but one of the silly websites found an innocuous quote from him in the Arab American News concerning Ramadan.

He pointed out that because Muslims tend to stay up late after fasting between their pre-dawn and post-sunset meals, parents should be especially aware of their children’s whereabouts.

That was all it took for a parade of silly people to rail about Islam taking over the city. Again.

Not even one

Haddad, 64, is a former Detroit deputy chief who’s been with the department in Dearborn for seven years.

While the silly websites refer to him as Muslim, associates report that he is not. Haddad says it doesn’t matter, which is true: “I’ve got a 42-year record of police service I’m going to stand on. Leave it at that.”

Steering his police cruiser up the high road, he attributes the silliness to people being misinformed, rather than, say, ignorant or spiteful.

“I think that most people recognize it’s not accurate,” he says, “but for those who don’t make that distinction, therein lies the problem.”

For the record, he says, a youngster caught out after curfew will be given a ride home and a warning. Repeat violators, be they Muslim, Episcopalian or Baha’i, receive tickets.

“We just want to make sure young people are properly supervised,” he says — and apparently, they are.

The number of curfew violation tickets written these past few weeks is zero, the same as the chances of Dearborn being swarmed over by Shariah.