Concern is growing about anti-Muslim demonstrations due to take place in cities across the United States. The rallies are planned from cities as far apart as Seattle and Atlanta and from San Francisco to Detroit. Some are due to start today (9 October) with more planned for Saturday 10.
Protestors say they will gather outside Mosques as well as government buildings and are calling for people in cities not yet represented to join in. A central rallying point for the demonstrations is a series of Facebook pages which go under the innocent sounding name 'Global Rally For Humanity.' Between these pages, many thousands of people are engaged, although it remains to be seen how many will actually turn out on the streets.
There is sufficient concern however, for the Southern Poverty Law Centre to speak out. A spokesperson said, "Muslim and interfaith leaders from around the country are responding to these rallies forcefully... While it may be easy to dismiss the men and women participating in these rallies in front of houses of worship as extreme or fringe, they are actually the physical manifestation of an ugly rhetoric against Muslim communities that has been with us through much of US history... This anti-Muslim hate, along with other forms of blatant racism, is being incubated and even celebrated in mainstream politics and public thought."
There is particular concern that many of the events are advertised as 'open carry' meaning as well as a potentially tense atmosphere, there is likely to be a focus on firearms.
The Council for Islamic-American Relations (CAIR) has asked Mosques to be prepared for violence and to take precautions. As Christian Today reported earlier this week, the American marches follow on from anti-Islam marches held by German right-wing group PEGIDA in Europe have drawn crowds of as many as 20,000.
Spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper said there is particular concern around this weekend – even compared to previous similar events. "At first we didn't want to take it public but at some level you have to warn the community about these potentially violent hate rallies," he said.
Interfaith activists are organising counter-events and also encouraging Christians and those of other faiths to take the time this weekend to reach out to their neighbours.
American Christians seem to be debating whether or not to get involved in the day of demonstrations. So far though, high profile Christian leaders seem to have steered clear of endorsing the events which are takin place this weekend.