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Anti-Muslim extremists plan to hold rallies today and tomorrow outside mosques and Islamic businesses across the United States, including houses of worship in Georgia. Organizers have titled their effort a “Global Rally for Humanity,” uniting people with Islamophobic ideals against the religion as a whole.
By Thursday night, October 8, demonstrations had already occurred in Alpharetta, at the Islamic Center of North Fulton. Protesters plan to spread to other areas of Roswell and Atlanta on Friday, including Al-Farooq Masjid.
Jon Ritzheimer, an organizer of these protests (and former Marine), reportedly said, “This global rally is a patriotic sign of resistance against what I deem [to be] the tyranny of Islam in America.”
He also has encouraged supporters to openly carry weapons, supposedly to ensure that no one interferes with their First and Second Amendment rights.
However, Ritzheimer’s “Rally for Humanity” blatantly disregards the contributions of more than 6 million American Muslims, all of whom are citizens and patriots who support their country.
The Council for Islamic-American Rallies (CAIR), America’s leading Muslim activist and civil rights group, has urged Muslims to remain peaceful and vigilant during and after the rallies.
As both Muslims and Americans, it is exceedingly tempting for us to react with grief and anger. But in the face of an injustice as harsh as a national rally of Islamophobic and violent hatred, we must redirect our aggravation into a fury of desire. We must turn our passion into positive activism in order to ensure a better future for all those living in the United States.
There are multiple ways of handling violent situations without reciprocating violence:
- Create a safe space for dialogue.
- Although some have been encouraged to speak positively with protesters, refrain from confrontation.
- Rather than using religion alone as a way to relate with anti-Muslim protesters, find different grounds to positively reach out.
- Within your own community, organize counter protests by building peace circles and maintaining close relationships with surrounding communities.
- Screen films and documentaries about Islam. Capitalize on lack of knowledge of protestors as an opportunity to teach about Islam and establish personal connections.
In the words of Martin Luther King, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
Despite the unspoken fear within our communities, as well as our commitment to maintaining the words of the Qur’an and our Prophet (pbuh), we must continue to stand against these rallies. We cannot allow them to silence us.
We must also ask tough questions. For example, if this were any other people or group, would the protesters be allowed to proceed with their actions?
We must also direct a final question towards those who support the anti-Muslim protests: do your beliefs and ideals protect and serve Americans of different colors, religions, and cultures? Or must someone be white and non-Muslim to receive the rights and protections of the Constitution?
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