Muslims Prepare for More Than 20 Possibly Armed Rallies Outside Mosques
Muslims are preparing for possibly armed protestors outside mosques this weekend.
Jon Ritzheimer, the man who planned an armed, anti-Muslim rally outside a Phoenix, Arizona, mosque in May, is at it again. This time, he’s taking his cause national.
Ritzheimer planned rallies in at least 20 cities across the country, including Phoenix; Arlington, Texas; Dearborn, Michigan; and Ocala and Spring Hill, two cities in Florida. It’s not clear whether they all will take place.
Ritzheimer, a former U.S. Marine, is urging protesters to bring weapons to the events. On Facebook, he’s touting the gatherings as the “Global Rally For Humanity.”
Below, courtesy of Imagine 2050, a group which tracks issues related to race and immigration, is an interactive map showing where all of the rallies are planned.
It’s tempting to dismiss these as sideshows. But the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks extremism in America, warns otherwise.
“We’ve never had this many events at once targeting mosques in this kind of national way,” Heidi Beirich, who tracks hate groups at SPLC, told Religion News Service. “This mix of racist groups, anti-Muslim groups, and anti-government groups is basically a recipe for disaster.”
Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he hoped many of the planned rallies would fizzle out. But he said Ritzheimer’s rally in May shows there is potential for violence.
“In Phoenix, they did get hundreds of people with weapons and Nazi symbols,” Hooper told Foreign Policy on Friday. “We have to prepare for the worst.”
“Our various chapters and people here have been in touch with law enforcement,” regarding security at the targeted mosques, he added.
Photo credit: Don Emmert/Getty Images