On October 10, members associated with far-right, anti-government militia groups the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters plan to host an anti-Muslim protest outside the Dar Al Taqwa mosque in Ellicott City, Maryland. The event is just one of several lined up for a “Global Rally for Humanity” on Oct. 9 and Oct. 10.
A flyer for the event claims, “The world is saying no to Islam.”
“WE ARE INVOKING OUR 1ST AMENDMENT RIGHT ABOUT OUR FEELING OF ISLAM IN AMERICA,” reads the event’s Facebook page.
The anti-Muslim event’s main organizer is Mike “Mikey” White, a Maryland-based activist who uses his social media platforms to amplify anti-government rhetoric associated with groups like the Three Percenters and white pride. He announced in a video posted on Facebook page that he has received clearance to hold such an event by the Howard County Police, and that they will be present during the rally to “do their job to ensure our safety as well as the safety of others.” White also noted that this will be a “peaceful event.”
In addition, White announced via another video that a petition will be circulating decrying the Iran nuclear deal.
“We believe that all involved with the Iran nuclear deal had [sic] committed an act of treason against the United States and the American people,” he says in the video. “And we want justice. We want everyone held accountable.”
He added that he considers Iran to be the “number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” a sentiment espoused by national political figures including 2016 Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz and notorious anti-Muslim conspiracist Frank Gaffney.
Ritzheimer gained notoriety earlier this year when he organized his own armed anti-Muslim rally and Muhammad cartoon contest outside a Phoenix mosque. While the event drew individuals sympathetic to Ritzheimer’s views, it also attracted counter-protesters promoting religious tolerance.
Ritzheimer recently appeared in the headlines when police investigated his plot to recruit local Michigan Oath Keepers and Three Percenters to help him arrest Sen. Debbie Stabenow for treason after she voted in favor of the Iran nuclear deal.
Ritzheimer’s plot was so ludicrous and outlandish that even the Oath Keepers–a group known for promoting anti-government conspiracy theories–distanced themselves from the Arizona activist.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, patriot groups like the Oath Keepers consist of former military and law enforcement personnel who are fearful of “imaginary threats from the [U.S.] government” and believe there are plans to “force Americans into concentration camps, confiscate their guns, or cooperate with foreign troops in the United States.”
In the context of increasing Islamophobia in the mainstream political conversation, this plan to target the Dar Al Taqwa mosque is a truly distressing signal that grassroots anti-Muslim sentiment shows no sign of slowing.