Dearborn, Michigan has held the Arab American Festival for the past 16-years. The festival is hosted by the Arab American Council, and the media coverage that it receives is mostly focused on the Christian protestors who attend the event and get arrested.
The most recent Arab American festival got a lot of media coverage, because Florida Pastor Terry Jones made it known that he would be protesting this event. Jones has been nicknamed the “Koran burning” pastor and when the media was informed that he was planning on attending the Arab American Festival of 2011 in Dearborn, Michigan lots of headlines were made including Dearborn’s Michigan Messenger with, “Dearborn Arab Festival turns confrontational,” and an ABC Channel 7 WXYZ.com headline that read, ” Quaran-burning pastor plans another visit to Dearborn during Arab American festival.” Much more of a fuss was made over the protestors of the festival rather than lots of media footage of the actual festival itself. There was much more of an impact and media coverage of all the protesting involved rather than what Arab Americans were actually doing at this festival. There were even some Christians who were reportedly calling Dearborn “Dearbornistan,” according to he publications aforementioned.
The only story that the Detroit Free Press had about the Arab American Festival of 2011 was, “Pastor Terry Jones Thwarted in Dearborn,” which is more of an article focused on this white man rather than the events or Arab Americans that attended the festival, but the article does make it a point to show that Christians that are being disrespectful at this festival are not getting away with it. There was even an interview with a 14-year-old boy:
“Jones said Friday, as he has said repeatedly before, that Muslims have to prove their loyalty to the U.S. because their religion makes them suspect.
That outraged Dearborn resident Mohamed Al-Hachami, 14, who said Jones has no right to question them.
“I love America,” Al-Hachami said. “I’ve never even been to the Arab world my entire life.” ”
Dearborn News Online has media coverage from 2009’s Arab American Festival with the headline, “Christian Group Sues City Over Arab American Festival Access.” The article directly from Detroit News is unavailable without a paid subscription, but the aforementioned article includes excerpts saying that there were groups attempting to covert Muslims to Christianity and now they were suing Dearborn “claiming the city is violating its free speech and religious rights by limiting its access to patrons” at the 14th annual Arab International Festival.
I went to CNN.com to try and search terms to see if they had any coverage, but nothing came up – the same goes for FOX and MSNBC. So, the major mainstream news networks did not do any coverage about the Arab American Festivals (that I was able to find with my extensive research). Most of the “publications” that were servicing the information were blog sites that may not have been completely credible along with Arab American web sites that were just promoting the event. The “news” was really limited to the few local news sources and lots of blog coverage.
As a media representative I believe that these festivals should be covered in the mainstream media, because maybe if people find out what is really going on at these festivals from the Arab Americans that are in attendance then Americans would not be so ignorant and would be more educated and less disrespectful. Of course there will always be the protestors, but the protestors should not be what the media focuses on – there should be some real coverage from the Arab American festival to get a look at what is actually going on and to see how they celebrate.