Something very ugly could happen today and tomorrow. 

A loosely connected group of anti-Muslim activists is calling for protests at about 20 mosques and American Muslim community centers and organizations around the country. In states with open-carry laws, like Michigan, protesters are being urged to come with guns. Some of the rallies are scheduled for today, Friday, when communal prayers are held. Other protests are planned for Saturday, when many mosques hold classes for children.

Imagine taking your child to a Saturday morning religion class past gun-wielding demonstrators hurling abuse against your religion. 

Of course, anti-Muslim protestors have a constitutional right to assemble and express bigoted and even hateful views. At the same time, it is a core American value to protect the right of worship for American Muslims and all religious groups — and to speak out against prejudice and intimidation. We at the ACLU have been working with targeted American Muslim communities and like-minded allies to support our Muslim neighbors, who are deeply concerned about the rise in anti-Muslim hatred, their security, and the protests’ potential for violence. 

A call for nation-wide anti-Muslim protests on this scale is new, but it is sadly unsurprising because it reflects a national environment in which prejudice against American Muslims is running rampant — with devastatingly tragic security consequences for individuals and our country’s future. It’s an environment fueled by pundits like Bill Maher, who falsely ascribes violent intent to “vast numbers” of Muslims, and an entire industry of foundations and donors that has spent $57 million dollars to promote anti-Muslim bigotry in our country. 

Critically, it’s also an environment fueled by the rhetoric and actions of politicians and law enforcement at the local, state, and federal level.

Just last month, for example, elected officials and law enforcement leaders in Tennessee, where one of the largest anti-Muslim protests is expected tomorrow, made alarmingly xenophobic and anti-Muslim comments. As the ACLU of Tennessee and statewide religious, community, and immigrant rights groups responded:

Not only do these statements send the wrong message to their respective communities, they stoke the flames of hate that could incite attacks against peaceful Americans. 

At the national level, there is an alarming willingness of public officials to attack American Muslim communities for political gain, sending messages that divide Americans instead of uniting them. We need more public officials willing to say what former Secretary of State Colin Powell said in 2008, “Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is ‘No.’ That’s not America.”  

All of this is exacerbated by policies and practices that stigmatize American Muslims as suspect — like the so-called federal “countering violent extremism” program. Worse still, security measures, such as federal watchlists and surveillance and sting operations, disproportionately and discriminatorily target them.

This environment feeds not just bigoted rallies, but hate crimes, which are on the rise. Three weeks ago, a man threatened Muslim worshippers in Ohio. When the police arrested him, they found a hatchet under his passenger seat. In Chicago, another man called a Sikh father of two “Osama bin Laden” and subjected him to a violent beating. Across the country, Muslim houses of worship are targeted for arson and vandalism. These are just a few examples of a wave of ugliness. 

America must be better than this. Ours is a nation founded on shared values of pluralism, freedom of religion or no religion, and equality. And reflecting those values, many Americans are responding to the anti-Muslim hate rallies by denouncing bigotry, speaking up for tolerance and equality, and engaging in actions of support and solidarity

Please, join in.  

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Anonymous

hmmmmmm.........Interesting how there was no such sentiment by the ACLU when the Black Lives Matter protesters were terrorizing Ferguson and Baltimore. Nor any condemnation of all the property damage they caused.

Anonymous

You are an intelligent person.

Anonymous

Funny that Bill Maher is the targeted pundit for the article. Oh the delicious irony of it all.

Angela

This could have been a well written article. Unfortunately, you added Bill Maher as an example of 'hate speech' that is perpetrating the problem. This is not accurate; Bill Maher speaks out about the parts of religion that subjugate women and create extemist views. He's equally disdainful of all religions but would never propose or condone a violent demonstration designed to create fear. To group him in with protestors with guns is not accurate and waters down the true issue of this article. People who watch Bill Maher tend to have more liberal values and are more tolerant in general.

Denis

I totally agree with Angela. ACLU seems to be as blind as those it so self-rightously criticizes. My support for ACLU can no longer be as blind as it has become. Sorry ACLU.

Greg

The history of Mohammedanism is one of unprovoked hostility toward this country and its citizens. Read the history. The matter that we guarantee the right to exercise religion without legislative interference complicates this matter. But when the stated objective of the enemy is to fundamentally transform this nation into something other than what it was originally intended to be, and to do that by "hiding" behind our laws - or entirely disobeying them or circumventing them - the lines become much clearer. Remember the Trojan horse? It's here ... within our boarders and the ACLU, no matter how ironic and incongruent it is, will "defend" this "dilemma" with all the dishonesty and subterfuge it can muster. Where were you guys when the former AG directly broke the law and told the state's AG's to do likewise? Where were you when Kim Davis' rights were clearly violated? Oh, I see. I get it. You're not really American - you just use that appellation in order to deceive as many people as you can. A whole bunch of us, real American citizens, are not fooled by your seditious rhetoric.

Anonymous

"Where were you when Kim Davis' rights were clearly violated? " Her rights were not violated.

Brien

KIm Davis used her religion to trample on others' rights.
Secularisation is the only fair and equitable system for all equally.
You get your freedom of religion, and I get my freedom from religion.

Amelia Talpur

Dearest, Beloved ACLU,

My profound respect for the ACLU is long-held and unquestionable. Even prior to attending law school, I recognized the organization's unwavering dedication to protecting the individual rights of American citizens as guaranteed in Bill of Rights. Since the ACLU was founded, it has possessed a steadfast inclination to “get it right" -- regarding its arguments concerning the applicability (and interpretation) of the Bill of Rights -- when so, so many others had it wrong.

I would never deny the existence of individuals who are anti-Islam to such an extreme, a wholesale ban on the religion seems their purpose or end-game. There exists a number of individuals who are anti-Christianity with a similar end-game. Yet, not everyone who stands opposed to the fundamental teachings of either religion necessarily demands the complete eradication of those religions and associated adherents.

As a vociferous supporter and champion of the ACLU, I respectfully request a more careful consideration of word-choice when referencing critics or criticism of Islam. "Phobia" is defined as "an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object..." (Merriam-Webster)

The term "Christianophobic" should not be used against all Christianity's critics or critics of the Bible's teachings, nor should all critics of Mormonism be vilified as "Mormonophobic" for criticizing the Book of Mormon or specific Mormon practices. To say otherwise implies that all critics of Christianity or Mormonism possess an "inexplicable and illogical fear," which they do not.

If the ACLU is to continue using the term "Islamophobia," then there must be a qualification of sorts. At present, we have no qualification. We have no agreement as to which type of criticism is acceptable and which type is not. As such, any criticism of Islam, Islamic practices or passages from the Quran falls under the general category of "Islamophobic" -- blanketing all who speak disapprovingly of any aspect of Islam with the unsavory characteristics associated with the term (i.e., “right-wing," "hateful," "bigoted" and/or "racist").

There seems to be a growing movement to shut down discourse involving any criticism of Islam, as evidenced by the increasing usage of the terms "Islamophobia" and "Islamophobic" without qualification. This serves to limit discourse that merely identifies practices informed by the Quran or Sharia law as anathema to civil rights (e.g., statutory capital punishment of homosexuals, statutory corporal punishment of homosexuals, modesty laws for women, guardianship laws for women).

The end of enquiry should not be the goal, yet there is a growing fear of enquiry as it relates to women's rights issues and/or the criminalization of homosexuality in Muslim-majority countries because the fear of being branded "hateful" or "bigoted" is so great.

The rule must be that no major world religion stands above reproach. No major world religion with a history of civil rights abuses -- such as Christianity -- should be exempt from enquiry or criticism. Why must we carve out an exception to this rule?

If the exception is to exist due to our (the West's) lack of knowledge or familiarity with the Quran itself or what a majority of Muslims agree upon as central tenets of their faith, then I advise we become more familiar with the Quran and Islam's central tenets before discourse -- including debate and criticism -- is discouraged or individuals taking part in such discourse are deemed bigoted and hateful.

Anonymous

And I'm sure that you'll also say that Christians are the ones around the world killing, beheading, maiming innocent people because they don't believe in their God...

I hope that Islam does take over the world...and cut all off your heads off!!!

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