Surging Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson has said that he’s opposed to a Muslim in the White House. But on Saturday and Sunday a group called “Global Rally for Humanity” hoped to go further, hounding Islam out of America itself.
“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,” rally organizers wrote on their Facebook page. “The world is saying no to Islam.”
Scheduled to begin on Saturday in at least 20 cities, the weekend protests appeared to get off to a slow start, with no confirmed reports of mosques, community centers or government offices facing anything like a wall of armed protesters. But the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s leading Muslim civil rights organization, isn’t taking any chances, especially since protesters have been asked to carry weapons where legal.
For the past week, CAIR has urged local authorities and Muslim community leaders to act normally while also watching out for threats. In May, for example, more than 200 protesters denigrated Islam and its Prophet Muhammad outside a mosque in Phoenix, Arizona.
That event was organized by Jon Ritzheimer, an Iraq war veteran who showed up in a black T-shirt emblazoned with the words “F—k Islam.” He said he was inspired to act after another anti-Muslim event in Texas—featuring drawings of the Prophet that Muslims consider blasphemous—came under attack by two gunmen.
Ritzheimer is once again a force behind the weekend’s actions, which did turn out a smattering of flag-waving anti-Islam activists in Phoenix, according to an unverified video posted on Twitter.
"Organizers of the hate rallies have indicated that participants in states with open carry laws may be armed and that provocations such as the use of live pigs and Quran desecrations may occur," the Council on American-Islamic Relations told Newsweek in statement.
"The anti-Islam rallies come at a time of increased hate-motivated crimes and bias incidents nationwide targeting persons and property associated, or perceived to be associated, with Islam and the American Muslim community,” the group added.
On Saturday Ben Carson offered up a new explanation for why he’s opposed to a Muslim American becoming president, citing fears of “different loyalties” that he believes the Founding Fathers articulated by barring immigrants from becoming chief executive. But he’s far from alone in his belief of Muslim infidelities or the existence those beliefs in others.
In September fellow Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump refused to challenge a person at a New Hampshire campaign event who announced, “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims.” Trump also has a history of questioning President Obama’s faith and commitment to America.
“He doesn't have a birth certificate. He may have one, but there's something on that, maybe religion, maybe it says he is a Muslim," Trump told Fox News in 2011. "I don't know. Maybe he doesn't want that.”
Further afield, the Quran-burning Pastor Terry Jones of Florida has held several anti-Islam rallies in the immigrant-rich town of Dearborn, Michigan, where a group of Christian missionaries also brought a pig's head on a pole to the annual Arab festival.
“This is a Global Rally For Humanity,” the organizers of this weekend’s events proclaimed on Facebook. “Humanity is attacked daily by radical Islam. Protests will be held in every country at every Mosque.”
They have not happened yet.