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Rallying for Prejudice

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 8/10/2015 Khwaja Khusro Tariq
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On October 9 and 10 at least twenty protests are planned at mosques and Islamic centers across America under the banner of "Global Rally for Humanity". The Facebook page being utilized for promoting the rallies provides little in the way of a cogent purpose for the rallies but states simply: "Humanity is attacked daily by radical Islam. Protests will be held at every country and every mosque."
At the forefront of this event is Mr. John Ritzheimer, an unemployed ex-marine who last year had organized a gathering consisting of hundreds of bikers-many armed-outside the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, Arizona. During television interviews following this event Mr. Ritzheimer exhibited an abject lack of knowledge regarding Islam and was roundly criticized by several mainstream media figures. This media exposure however has gained him a following deriving mostly from "Patriot" Militias and he is currently "followed" by over 4,400 individuals on his Facebook page. This page currently boasts a "cover photo" of Mr.Ritzheimer carrying an assault rifle with the American flag in the background with this descriptor:
"Prepare yourself for 10-9 / 10-10!!!! The likelihood for blood will be high. True colors will be shown once again when we step up to this common enemy who attacks humanity daily and enslaves it's followers."
Some of the rhetoric of commentators on this page and the "Global Rally for Humanity" page are even more violent and directly threatening towards Muslims.
It would be easy to brush aside these rallies as a puerile gimmick and it certainly would not be wise to give them unnecessary and inordinate attention. However in the context of the recent remarks made by Ben Carson about Muslims and the presence of a strong anti-Muslim section in conservative media it is hard for American Muslims not to see such events as ominous.

Those who promote such events and endorse such rhetoric fail to address certain facts that undermine their hateful narrative. First and foremost, the principal victims of violent extremists are Muslims themselves. Hundreds of thousands have died in places like Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The national armies of several Muslim majority countries are fighting radical groups at great human and economic cost.
Secondly, when Islam and Muslims as a whole are demonized it not only undermines progressive Muslim voices but also creates the fear and resentment that extremist organizations exploit to recruit. Moral generalizations against Islam and Muslims only help extremists reinforce their loathsome "Islam versus Infidels" narrative.
Lastly, the propaganda paradigm most milked by anti-Muslim groups in their rhetoric is this: that Muslims are an esoteric cult that puts religious loyalties before all else, is incapable and unwilling to assimilate and wishes to impose it's creed on all. This abhorrent misrepresentation of Muslims has been carefully crafted since 9-11 by certain sections of the media and particularly on an assortment of anti-Muslim websites on social media. None of this intentional and dishonest garbage stands up to the scrutiny of either the Koran or the history of Islam. The Koran accepts other Abrahamic faiths as God-given and unambiguously enjoins against compulsion in faith. Throughout the major Arab Caliphates and the Ottoman Empire, the profession and practice of other faiths was not interfered with.
Muslim Americans are as patriotic, hard-working and American as anyone else. They have been affected by extremism as much as anyone else. How they are treated and protected as citizens of America is today a test of our nation's pluralism, tolerance-and soul.

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