About two weeks ago, the staff here at CNC announced that a group of loosely connected anti-Muslim activists were planning a number of protests in front of mosques, community centers and government buildings, for the weekend of October 9. In the end, about 35 planned protests were documented. We also shared that organizers of some of the events were urging protesters to come armed and ready to “protect America from Islam.”
We wrote about these protests and compiled all the information we could find about these so-called ‘Global Rallies for Humanity’ into a searchable map that we posted publicly.
News of these rallies prompted the broader community to respond quickly and with force. Within a few days, affected mosques had safety plans in place, local and federal law enforcement agencies were engaged, community and interfaith partners were standing by to support and a working plan was in place to counter the public, and scary, anti-Muslim hate planned for the weekend.
There was even a robust response online. Using #HateUnchecked, supporters from around the world used social media to explore and discuss what happens when we don’t actively work to counter hatred—in it’s many forms. To date, at least 2.7 million Twitter users have been reached through #HateUnchecked and many more also joined in with #LoveYourNeighbor.
No child should feel scared about going to their community center or mosque. #HateUnchecked
— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) October 9, 2015
The broad goals were twofold: 1) Keep Muslim communities safe and 2.) Marginalize these anti-Muslim protesters while bringing attention to the broader discrimination and bigotry faced by American Muslims on a daily basis.
And as reports from the weekend continue to roll-in, the goals were successful on both counts.
But there is still reason to be concerned. Even though the events were largely unsuccessful—and sometimes downright pitiful—these planned brazen public displays of hatred toward American Muslims serve as a ongoing reminder of the need for a broader public discussion of what it means to be a Muslim living in the United States. For that matter, what it means to be someone who is perceived as a Muslim living in the United States.
I think I’m more worried that the ugly and bigoted rhetoric, and subsequent actions, that has infected our public discourse will slowly whittle away Ahmed’s ability to dream big for his future.
When 14-year-old Ahmed Mohammed was arrested for bringing a clock to school he got support from everyone from the White House to late night talk shows, and there was a welcome and necessary public outcry over the incident. But the truth remained that Ahmed was still the citizen of a country in which 40 percent of North Carolinians think his religion should be illegal, state lawmakers want to banish any mention of his religion from school books, and several major presidential candidate don’t believe he can or should ever be be president, because of his faith. So while I’m comforted that Ahmed, along with thousands of of his Muslim peers, wasn’t forced to come face to face with armed protesters this weekend while attending his mosque, I think I’m more worried that the ugly and bigoted rhetoric, and subsequent actions, that has infected our public discourse will slowly whittle away Ahmed’s ability to dream big for his future.
Here’s some coverage of the weekend’s events from our partners and allies:
From Hatewatch (SPLC) (10/12/15)
But fantasy met reality on Saturday, when most of the planned protests simply didn’t happen after all. Among the few rallies that actually came together, the counter-protesters well outnumbered the anti-Muslim activists. Indeed, “anti-hate” protesters came out to make their presence felt even at some of the locations where not a single protester showed.
From Common Dreams (10/12/15)
A series of planned anti-Islam rallies targeting more than 20 U.S. cities Saturday fizzled out despite extensive social media promotion; morphing instead into a welcomed show of support and tolerance.
From Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) press release (10/11/15)
“We are pleased that what was planned as a campaign of hate and marginalization turned instead into a show of support for the American Muslim community and for religious inclusion,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.
(CAIR also provides extensive coverage of the turnout (or lack thereof) at the individual rallies planned, and the response from the local community.)