On Sunday, the National Report, a satirical website that posts stories with headlines such as “Woman Possessed by Demon after Signing Up for ObamaCare” and “CDC Report Reveals Existence of ‘Zombies,’” published an article claiming that Dearborn has become the first U.S. city to “fully implement Sharia Law.”
The story quickly made its way around the internet, garnering nearly 90,000 shares on Facebook, and it seems many people did not understand the joke. According to the City of Dearborn, city hall employees have received multiple phone calls from people asking whether the story is true.
The city has responded to these questions by sending out the following press release:
“A satirical website called the National Report intentionally made up an article for entertainment purposes on Sunday, Oct. 27 about the City of Dearborn enacting sharia law over the weekend. The article is false; Dearborn is not under sharia law and has never at any time even considered such an action.
“Dearborn has never been, nor ever will be, under sharia law. We are governed by the U.S. Constitution, the Constitution of the State of Michigan and the City of Dearborn Charter,” said Mayor O’Reilly.
“We are a city named after a Revolutionary War Hero. We have lost loyal Dearborn American military service personnel in every war this country has fought to protect the individual rights we are guaranteed through the U.S. Constitution,” he said.
“We are a community that proudly honors those who served our country to protect those rights. We have annual observances on Memorial Day, Flag Day, Korean War Armistice Day and Veterans Day,” said Mayor O’Reilly.
The phony article appeared on the National Report, a website meant to be humorous, and has since been posted on other websites and circulated over the internet.
It also has been reposted multiple times on Facebook by people who are taking the fictional article at face value, and then expressing outrage about something that is simply not true.
“The National Report’s misguided attempt at humor furthers the goals of some people who have tried to suggest that the City of Dearborn is anti-American because our population includes residents who are Muslim,” said Mayor O’Reilly.
People from across the country, state and region have been contacting the City of Dearborn upset about the false news story. Many understand that it is not true, but are angry at the National Report for purposely making up the story.
Mayor O’Reilly said the phony story could impact people’s image of Dearborn, which is a city with strong community connections, excellent public services, and well-tended neighborhoods.
Dearborn has a diverse population, originally attracted to the city because of well-paying jobs at the Ford Rouge plant, the Ford World Headquarters and the Ford Research and Development Center.
The city also hosts other major employers, and remains a regional employment center, as well as a destination for shopping, cultural arts, recreation, night life, health care and higher education.
It is home to internationally-renown visitor attractions, led off by The Henry Ford: America’s Greatest History Attraction, which beckons more than a 1.7 million guests each year.
“This hoax has confused people, even some who are familiar with everything Dearborn has to offer, and who have enjoyed visiting our town in the past,” Mayor O’Reilly said.
“The National Report is not a news site, but is only pretending to be one. Its purpose is entertainment. In this case, its outrageous story, with no basis in fact, has ended up fooling people in part because it mirrors allegations made by others in the past with less than humorous intentions,” said Mayor O’Reilly.
“One unique aspect of our community is the strong working relationship that exists among our diverse faith leaders, who foster understanding and tolerance,” he said.
“It is in human nature to fear the unknown, which can lead to hate and attempts to deny the rights of others. But in Dearborn, that fear of the unknown is mitigated because leaders of many faiths regularly come together for dialogue and to celebrate the significant events of each others’ religions,” he said.
“We invite people to learn more about the real Dearborn,” Mayor O’Reilly said. “We want people to know we represent the best of America, our traditions and values, including following the rule of law under the U.S. Constitution.”
Update: See David Neiwert, “Dearborn, Mich.: We are not under Shariah law!”, SPLC, 5 November 2013