Lauren Markoe, Washington Post, October 8, 2015
Muslim leaders and anti-bigotry activists are girding for a weekend of protests–some billed as “open-carry events”–by groups known for their anti-Muslim views.
“We’ve never had this many events at once targeting mosques in this kind of national way,” said Heidi Beirich, who tracks hate groups at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Organizers, who are calling for protests on Friday and Saturday (Oct. 9 and 10), are billing the events as the “Global Rally for Humanity.” Beirich describes the protesters as a loose affiliation of anti-Muslim extremists who do not seem to be organized by larger, better-known anti-Muslim groups, such as Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative.
“This mix of racist groups, anti-Muslim groups and anti-government groups is basically a recipe for disaster,” Beirich said.
Kalia Abiade, of the Center for New Community, a Chicago-based anti-bigotry group, said some of the largest crowds are expected to protest outside mosques and Muslim community centers in Phoenix; Arlington, Texas; Dearborn, Mich.; and Ocala and Spring Hill, Fla. At least 20 protests are planned.
Law enforcement agencies–from the Department of Homeland Security to the FBI to local police–are working with mosques and Muslim community centers to help keep them safe, said participants in a Thursday (Oct. 8) conference call hosted by the Center for New Community and other groups concerned about the vitriol of the protestors and the potential for violence.