Amid increasing anti-Islam and anti-Muslim rhetoric, anti-Muslim groups have planned at least 20 rallies this month at mosques and Islamic centers across the Unites States on October 9th and 10th.
"Humanity is attacked daily by radical Islam," the group claims in its Facebook page. "Protests will be held in every country at every Mosque." The group also claims to have followers and events across several countries, including Australia, England, Canada and Germany.
According to Imagine 2050, at least 20 rallies, including Charleston, South Carolina; Atlanta; Dearborn, Michigan; and Phoenix, had already been planned for next Friday and Saturday. Some of the organizers have encouraged demonstrators to show up armed, while others urged participants not to bring weapons.
Organizers have cited the "Justice or Else" rally for 20th anniversary commemoration of Million Man March, as motivation for the anti-Muslim rallies. It may be recalled that in June last Louis Farrakhan leader of the Nation of Islam announced that a rally will take place on October 10 commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March. "These are not the times for weak people, for cowardly people," said Farrakhan, said while announcing the Oct. 10 event in response to a range of social ills he said are plaguing African Americans, including police shootings and other attacks against people of color.
Interestingly, none of the anti-Muslim protests are planned to take place outside Nation of Islam sites.
One of the demonstrations' major promoters is Jon Ritzheimer, who organized a rally outside a Phoenix mosque in late May. Some participants brandished military-grade weapons at that event, which garnered international media attention. In the wake of the Phoenix protest, Ritzheimer called for an international, two-day event to protest Islam.
"October 10th, radical Imam Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam will be in DC preaching their anti-American hate," the Murfreesboro, Tennessee event page wrote. "We've got about 3000 patriots going to DC to defend old glory, but those of us who can't make it to DC are rally up locally, at a mosque.
The organizers are also using the Iran nuclear deal and refugee resettlement as reasons for the protests. On social media, some Americans' concerns about the Syrian refugee crisis have been expressed through rhetoric that demonizes or dehumanizes Muslims.
The planned anti-Muslim demonstrations are the latest ripples in a rising tide of Islamophobia in America. They come at a time when major presidential candidates have taken aim at Muslims. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson has said that Muslims should denounce the Quran to have his support. "I would have problems with somebody who embraced all the doctrines associated with Islam," Carson told CNN's Jake Tapper. While responding to an audience member's disturbingly anti-Muslim question, another Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump promised to "look into" getting rid of all Muslims in the country.
The anti-Muslim rallies also come in the wake of an intense national conversation about Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Muslim boy arrested last month for bringing a homemade clock to his ninth-grade class. On September 14, Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old student from Irving, Texas, was handcuffed, interrogated and suspended for making a homemade clock and bringing it to school to impress his teacher. And while the kid received overwhelming support from across the country, including Mark Zuckerberg and even President Barack Obama, the principal and many teachers still side with the school's decision to handcuff the boy over a clock.
Alarmingly, though not widely reported at the national level, there have been other incidents of hostility facing Muslims and their institutions. For example, in Texas and Tennessee, demonstrations have been held outside of schools which teach Arabic or about Islam. And in Sterling Heights, Michigan, opposition to the construction of a mosque culminated in a massive protest, in which one attendee shouted "I don't want a mosque anywhere!"