By Francis X. Donnelly / The Detroit News
They spoke at the Islamic Center of American a day before Florida pastor Terry Jones planned to appear there to protest what he called Islamic extremists.
About 900 people turned out to hear the religious leaders, who ranged from Archbishop Allen Vigneron of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit; Imam Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini, leader of the Islamic Center; and Richard Nodel, president of the Jewish Community Relations Council.
The Rev. Charles Williams II, pastor of King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit, said Jones has actually done the community a favor by uniting the various religious factions.
â€œThank you for bringing us together,â€ William said as the audience all stood to applaud. â€œThis is our time to go to work.â€
He said the community should use the unity to tackle other problems, like crime and economic troubles.
â€œThis is our time to go to work,â€ he said.
After Dearborn Mayor John B. Oâ€™Reilly Jr. and eight religious leaders spoke during the two-hour rally, the crowd held a silent vigil by walking outside quietly and forming a half circle facing the mosque. The half circle they formed around mosque was a symbol of them protecting the mosque against Jones.
They held hands and remained quiet for 10 minutes before ending the silence by relaying the word â€œAmenâ€ from one end of the line to the other.
Before and during the rally, hundreds of people signed a 50-foot-long banner that exhorted them to oppose Jones and remember the best parts of their faith.
â€œWe, as caring neighbors in southeastern Michigan, stand together in condemning the actions of those who spew hate and fear, and who misuse and desecrate holy books of faith,â€ read the banner.
Meanwhile, several miles away in 19th District Court, a jury was selected for a trial Friday that will weigh whether Jones legally can carry out plans to protest at the mosque.