Muslims, Christians to unite in wake of Sterling Heights mosque battle

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Sterling Heights Residents Speak Out Against Mosque City Council, Aug. 18, 2015
Gus Burns | By Gus Burns |
STERLING HEIGHTS, MI — The battle over the possible construction of a mosque brought religious and cultural tension to a head in Sterling Heights.

The 25,000-square-foot mosque proposed to be built in a residential area on 15 Mile near Ryan in Sterling Heights was voted down by Sterling Heights City Council 9-0 in September, but some of bad feelings linger, including a rift between members of the Muslim and Chaldean communities.

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Chaldeans are Christians with Middle Eastern roots, who have historically been at odds with Muslims in the Middle East.

Chaldean and Arab leaders plan a rally to show unify between the two groups Thursday.

“The Sterling Heights situation went from becoming a legal issue into an issue of hate involving people of Middle Eastern descent,” John Oram, a local Chaldean Community leader, said in a statement announcing the rally. ” Our entire Community should not allow a distorted viewpoint of recent immigrants to negatively impact the partnerships formed by Muslims and Christians”

Al Jawad of the Arab American community said: “We are brothers and we have had a long and rich history together. Bad apples from both communities should not be allowed to ruin what we have worked so hard to build”

It is expected that there will be at least 30 community leaders on hand representing both sides, including Osama Siblani, Publisher of The Arab American News, at the rally.

The rally and news conference will start at 11:30 a.m. Thursday outside Sterling Heights City Hall, at 40555 Utica Road in Sterling Heights.