Last Sunday was supposed to be when a ‘Global Rally for Humanity’ was to occur which sounds like a good thing but in reality was the incongruous name given to the day when protestors were supposed to fan out to mosques across the nation to protest the presence of Muslims in the US. But at least at some venues, the event did not turn out quite as the organizers planed. For one thing, in many locations no protestors turned up at all while at others, counter-protestors outnumbered the protestors. In fact, the planned protests ended up generating solidarity between Muslims and their neighbors in the communities and between protestors and counter-protestors.
The event at a Cleveland mosque was one example. First of all, only one protestor, a woman named Annie carrying multiple signs, turned up outside a mosque in central Ohio. She was a little chagrined to find that her fellow protestors had chickened out but she gamely stayed on. Then a fairly large group of mosque members engaged her in conversation that started out a little confrontational but then changed into a real dialogue. They ended up inviting her into the mosque. She accepted (joking that as a Christian she might burst into flames for entering an Islamic house of worship) and entered to a round of applause.
The video is rather long but by watching the first five minutes, then a few minutes at the 32-minute mark and then the last few minutes beginning at the 44-minute mark, you get a good sense of how the relationship evolved. You have got to hand it to all the people involved. Annie seems like a nice person who did not shy away from engaging with the people she was protesting, and she reacted the way nice people do when other people are friendly towards them.
In another such demonstration, about a dozen protesters, some armed with rifles, showed up. But two groups of counter-protestors, some also carrying guns, also showed up, outnumbering the protestors. Interestingly, one of the groups consisted of communists and the others were gun open-carry advocates who said they were there to show solidarity with Muslims.
Several protesters and counter-protesters brandished AK47 or AR15 rifles. City officials had said were worried about the event, but it went smoothly with no arrests, Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad and Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly Jr. said after the rally.
Jon Ritzheimer, an Arizona man with the anti-government group Oath Keepers who had threatened to arrest U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow in Michigan over her support of the Iran deal, was one of the leaders who instigated the nationwide protests, said the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The communist group that counter-protested in Dearborn held up signs that read “No to Anti-Islam Bigots” and “Unity Yes! Racism No!” while chanting “Stop Terrorizing Muslims at Home and America” and “Hey hey, ho ho, racist fascists got to go.”
The open-carry group that supported Muslims said it wanted to send a message that open-carry proponents are not bigots. One couple from Cadillac who support gun rights but opposed the anti-Islam message had guns painted red, white and blue along with patriotic shirts colored like an American flag.
“I’m here today to protest the Islamophobic protesters that are here bearing arms,” said Rekab Semaj of Oakland County, who had an AK47 rifle slung over his shoulder and a sign reading “Muslims Deserve Freedom.”
“My message is that liberty is for everyone, that liberty has no borders … Just because someone is of a certain religion does not mean they are dangerous. Just because the fact I’m a gun owner, does not mean I am inherently dangerous.”
I am glad that this one ended peacefully. When you have a lot of people armed with powerful weapons confronting each other, there is always the danger that a gun accidentally fired or one hot-head could set off a tragedy. As far as I can see, the guns didn’t really add to the message of either side.