DETROIT — A Detroit man born in Iraq who says he has a history of psychological problems has admitted to burning Qurans in Dearborn, Mich., on three separate occasions over the past month.
Ali Hassan Al-Asadi, 51, was arrested on June 25 outside the Karbalaa Islamic Education Center in Dearborn after he burned a Quran while holding a wooden club, Dearborn Police Lt. Douglas Topolski said Monday.
Al-Asadi told police he burned another Quran earlier that day in Dearborn and three Qurans on June 10 outside the Karbalaa center, Topolski said.
The June 10 burning sparked concern as it came a few days before Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones of Florida visited Dearborn. During Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s recent visit to Dearborn, he condemned the burnings outside the Karbalaa center, which serves the Iraqi-American Shia community.
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Al-Asadi was charged with littering and the release of soot, both misdemeanors. He was released on a $500 bond after pleading guilty and faces a sentencing on Aug. 5 in 19th District Court in Dearborn.
Referring to the police report, Topolski said al-Asadi contended “a high-ranking official in the mosque defrauded him out of a large sum of money, and when he asked for it, he was belittled, humiliated, and hit with shoes.” The police report doesn’t specify which mosque.
Speaking Monday to the Detroit Free Press, al-Asadi said that he burned a dozen Qurans over the past year at several locations because he has increasingly negative views about Muslims in general and because he had a financial dispute with an Iraqi-American Muslim.
Al-Asadi said he was raised in Iraq as a Shia Muslim, but converted to Christianity and attends local churches. Al-Asadi said he immigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s, part of a wave of Iraqi Shias who came to metro Detroit as political refugees escaping the government of Saddam Hussein.
Al-Asadi said he developed “severe psychological trauma anxiety” in Iraq after treating injured Iraqi soldiers in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Al-Asadi said he was a doctor in Iraq, but is on disability. Al-Asadi said he was admitted to a psychiatric center last year in Detroit and takes psychiatric medication.
Imam Husham al-Husainy, head of the Karbalaa center, thanked police for arresting the man who burned Qurans outside his center. Al-Husainy said he doesn’t know al-Asadi.