Site of Arab International Festival moving after controversy

Apr 29, 2013

The site of the annual Arab International Festival in Dearborn is moving and admission could be charged.

Niraj Warikoo reports for the Detroit Free Press that tensions in recent years involving Christian missionaries has led to the change of venue.

Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly said Friday that the city plans to shift the festival — the biggest annual outdoor gathering of Arab Americans in the U.S. — from Warren Avenue to Ford Woods Park, near the corner of Ford and Greenfield roads. One of the reasons for the move is liability concerns; the city has been hit with lawsuits from some Christian missionaries alleging their free speech rights were curtailed at the festival.

The 18-year-old festival is held each June by the American Arab Chamber of Commerce.

Last year, some Christian missionaries from California picketed at the festival with anti-Islam signs.