CAIRO – The 2012 Arab International Festival was concluded on Sunday, June 17, after drawing thousands of visitors to the Detroit suburb of Dearborn who were wishing to experience all the excitement and rich cultural diversity.
"It is the most vibrant time of the year," American Arab Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Fay Beydoun, told Detroit Free Press.
The Dearborn festival, hosted by the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, transforms 14 blocks of Warren Avenue into a cultural celebration, rich with diversity, food, arts and entertainment.
Admission is free to the family-friendly event, which opened its doors from Friday to Sunday.
The all-ages event features live music and performances, carnival rides, henna designs, crafts and jewelry.
Flourishing over the past 17 years, the festival keeps drawing visitors who wish to celebrate Detroit rich cultural diversity.
"Every year more and more people of all races and cultures are joining us in celebrating our rich heritage,” Beydoun added.
“It also adds an economic boost to the local economy."
The three-day festival is the largest public gathering of Arab-Americans in the US.
Dearborn has the highest concentration of Arab-Americans in the US, many of them Muslim, making it a magnet for some Christian missionaries.
Targeting the peaceful festival, many Christian missionaries taunted Arab American visitors with a pig’s head and signs that promoted hatred of Islam.
“You’re gonna burn in hell,” one missionary shouted at a group of young Arab-American boys listening to him speak on Warren Avenue, where the festival takes place.
The Bible Believers also protested at last year's Arab Festival, holding up both anti-Muslim and anti-Catholic signs and causing one Arab-American Muslim girl to cry.
About a dozen with the group stood facing the festival on Friday with signs that made bigoted remarks about Islam and its prophet, Mohammed.
Some of the signs the missionaries held read: "Islam is a religion of blood and murder"
Other missionaries at the festival were less confrontational, handing out fliers telling Muslims to convert and handing out free Christian books.
The United States is home to an estimated Muslim minority of between seven to eight million.
Since 9/11, US Muslims have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.
The United States is the world's largest source of Christian missionaries with a reported 46,000 proselytizers worldwide followed by South Korea.
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