A series of anti-Islam protests planned for 20 cities across the country this weekend has forced American mosques to increase security, but has also fueled a backlash against event organizers.
The Global Rally for Humanity is protesting an event called "Justice or Else," marking the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, but many individuals and groups are condemning the rallies as racist.
The Council for Islamic-American Relations (CAIR), urged Muslim leaders across the country to remain on the lookout for potential violence and keep in contact with local law enforcement over the weekend, spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told the International Business Times.
"A lot of the times with stuff like this, we don't know if it's just bluster or something serious. Our position is generally not to give attention to people seeking cheap publicity. But there's been enough violent rhetoric around this event that we just felt it prudent to alert the community about what actions they can take to make sure everyone is safe and secure."Organized on Facebook by the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, the nationwide rallies urge patriots to gather in front of every mosque in America and event planners in Michigan are calling for people to come armed in the open-carry state, according to News Week.
"Standing up against Islam does not mean you're a racist or a bigot, it simply means you're not an idiot and can see the reality of Islam around the world. The world is saying no to Islam."Organizers in Dearborn, Michigan, were unable to get permits allowing them to protest their city's mosque and so decided to rally downtown outside city hall.
City leaders are encouraging the public to ignore the Dearborn rallies following a Bill O'Reilly television segment that describes the town as being controlled by Muslims.
Many mainstream Americans and some groups are calling the protests anti-American and have taken to Facebook to troll the organization and mock poster's comments.Responding to the hateful posts by anti-Muslim commenters, some users posted comments questioning the wisdom of people who defend the U.S. constitution by bullying Americans at their places of worship, including user Aly Trvn, according to Raw Story.
"I don't see any pages rallying against the white uneducated rednecks who go and shoot up schools and [churches] every year."Several public anti-Muslim comments by Republican presidential candidates in recent days have added to the chaos including Ben Carson's comments that a Muslim would be a bad choice for president.
Muslim leaders, meanwhile, announced they would be hosting voter-registration drives at mosques and community centers over the weekend with a goal of registering 20,000 new voters for the Super Tuesday presidential primaries on March 1.
The United Church of Christ issued a declaration showing their support with the country's Muslims.
CAIR leaders say the best way to combat anti-Muslim sentiment in local communities is through coalition building and civic empowerment, which is why they're launching a year-long campaign to counter Islamophobia.
Meanwhile, the nation's Muslim leaders are encouraging their flock not to respond to violence and to keep in close contact with their local law enforcement during the potentially violent weekend.
"Many of these planned rallies may not take place, or they may consist of only a handful of people shouting slurs at worshipers. But given the recent endorsement of Islamophobia by national public figures, it would only be prudent for mosque and community leaders to prepare for any eventuality."[Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]