"Sorry, Islamophobes: Your Anti-Muslim rallies ended up inspiring acts of love and service"
This headline of the Huffington Post best describes the fizzle of the nationwide anti-Islam and anti-Muslim rallies organized by what Carol Kuruvilla calls a loosely affiliated group of armed protesters.
"After hearing about armed protests scheduled to take place around mosques, the interfaith community rallied around Muslims. Instead of dividing the communities they targeted, news about the rallies strengthened bonds between interfaith allies and inspired numerous acts of community service around the U.S., Kuruvilla writes in the Huffington Post.
Although up to 35 Facebook pages were created in support of the
rally, according to the anti-bigotry group Center for New Community, the
majority of these were deactivated in the days leading up to Friday, October 9.
The group had called for anti-Islam rallies for Friday and Saturday. It was
reported that such rallies have been planned in around 20 cities nationwide.
A protest scheduled to happen in front of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan, had to relocate to the grounds of a public library because the organizers hadn't gained a permit, according to Arab American News. Fewer than 10 protestors reportedly showed up, four carrying weapons. Counter protestors spent time engaging in dialogue with those who seemed to have an anti-Muslim viewpoint. The two groups left after shaking hands.
Another rally was scheduled to take place at Masjid Muhammad in Washington, D.C. The Facebook page announcing that event was later taken down. Still, a few interfaith allies attended a Friday prayer service at the mosque to make it clear that they were willing to stand alongside Muslims. Catherine Orsborn, director of the Shoulder to Shoulder interfaith campaign, which aims to end anti-Muslim bigotry, was one of the leaders who attended the prayers. Other than a security protocol leaflet inserted into the program, she said the service went on as planned and the community didn't seem to be on edge. "The sermon wasn't about the protests, it was about freedom, justice and equality," Orsborn told the Huffington Post.
At Seattle's Interfaith Community Sanctuary, Muslims, Jews, Christians and Buddhists participated in joint prayers on Friday. They screened the film "American Muslims: Facts vs. Fiction," which presents information about the Muslim community, from how often Muslims watch television to how often they attend religious prayer services.
Michigan's Muslim Community Council directed Muslims and their interfaith allies to avoid counter-protests and instead commit to serving the community. Volunteers planned to distribute clothing and school supplies to people in need at the Muslim Center in Detroit. Others signed up to plant trees and organize a youth dialogue on politics and social justice.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said Sunday (Oct 11) that anti-Islam hate rallies planned at mosques nationwide on Saturday "fizzled" and that interfaith partners turned out at a number of mosques to show their support for the Muslim community. CAIR noted that one hate rally in Phoenix included apparent neo-Nazis wearing swastika symbols.
The CAIR listed a number of images and media reports contrasting non-existent or poor turnout for the hate rallies with enthusiastic support for Muslims by interfaith partners:
About 30 people of other faiths turn out at Maryland Mosque to show support against haters. The people of various faiths showed up at Dar-Al-Taqwa Mosque in Howard County -- to support the mosque.
In Alabama, planned protest outside Huntsville Islamic center falls flat.
In Oregon anti-Muslim rally "re-branded" as pro-police.
Few Islam haters showed up in Oklahoma while interfaith partners showed support for Muslims. The CAIR also circulated picture of a lone anti-Islam protester in Oklahoma City.
In California, there were not anti-Islam demonstrations. According to ABC 7, an anti-Islam rally was announced outside the Islamic Center in Oakland but the rally was cancelled. In Fresno, State University advised the Muslim students to stay home for their safety. However, major San Francisco Bay Area did not follow Fresno's measure.