Christian Wrestling Coach Sues School, Muslim Principal

A former high school wrestling coach filed a federal lawsuit Monday against a Dearborn, Mich., high school and its Muslim principal a year after being fired.

Gerald Marszalek, who coached wrestling for 35 years, claims his contract with Fordson High School was terminated because of his association with a Christian volunteer coach, who the principal accused of converting a Muslim student to Christianity.

"We are getting a glimpse of what happens when Muslims who refuse to accept American values and principles gain political power in an American community," said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of Thomas More Law Center, which filed the lawsuit on the former coach's behalf.

The law firm is suing for violation of constitutional rights to free speech and exercise of religion, and Michigan laws against discrimination. Marszalek is seeking his back pay, injunctive and declaratory relief, damages, and to be reinstated as coach of the wrestling team.

Conflict arose more than three years ago when Marszalek's volunteer assistant, Trey Hancock, held a summer wrestling camp where a Muslim camper converted.

According to Thomas More Law Center, Fordson High School principal Imad Fadlallah punched the student who converted and told him he had disgraced his family.

Fadlallah ordered Marszalek to ban his assistant from the school and all wrestling events.

Hancock, a pastor of the Dearborn Assembly of God, said last year that he never mixed religion with sports.

But complying with the school, he stopped his work as an assistant.

Hancock, however, had a son on the wrestling team and attended the wrestling meets to support his son. A Muslim parent complained to the principal that the coach didn't do enough to keep Hancock away from the students, Marszalek explained to last year.

After the wrestling season ended, the school did not allow Marszalek, also a Christian, to reapply to his coaching position.

"Failure to renew coach Marszalek's contract had nothing to do with wrestling and everything to do with religion," Thompson said.

The city of Dearborn has a large Muslim population. An estimated 30,000 of its 98,000 residents are Muslims, according to Thomas More Law Center.

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