The Huffington Post: How Interfaith Activists Will Counter This Week's Anti-Muslim Rallies

Ian Pajer-Rogers |

From The Huffington Post:

by Carol Kuruvilla

Even though statistics show that domestic terrorism and white supremacists are a much bigger threat to Americans than radical Islam, anti-Muslim sentiment and hate crimes have swelled in America in recent years. 

Now, a disturbing string of nationally coordinated rallies -- some that may draw angry andarmed protestors -- is being planned for October 9 and October 10 at roughly 20 mosques or Islamic centers across the country. The Council on American-Islamic Relations haswarned mosques to take extra security measures during the so-called "Global Rally for Humanity" events. Muslim leaders are advising the community to take the "moral high ground" and avoid direct confrontation with protestors who bring messages of hate onto sacred ground. 

But American Muslim communities are not being left to face these protestors alone. Interfaith groups are stepping in, offering to organize counter protests, build peace circles and engage in long-term community building.

That's what happened in Phoenix earlier this year, after a group of bikers organized an anti-Muslim rally outside a mosque. Religious leaders in the area organized an interfaith prayer vigil inside the targeted mosque, bringing about 200 community members of many different faiths together in a powerful show of solidarity.

Rev. Erin Tamayo, Executive Director of the Arizona Faith Network and one of the organizers of the vigil, said that the hate rally has actually strengthened interfaith networks in Phoenix. Her organization has developed close ties with two mosques in the area, setting the groundwork for their response this week. 

"I'm sure the hate groups weren't hoping for that [positive outcome]," Tamayo told The Huffington Post. "But that's really what's happening here." 

Catherine Orsborn, director of the Shoulder to Shoulder interfaith campaign, which aims to end anti-Muslim bigotry, said that after the Phoenix vigil, the interfaith community is more willing to be "out there and out front" for their Muslim brothers and sisters. But an important first step is to reach out to mosque leadership and ask whether a public action is what they really want. 

"Muslim communities may not want to exacerbate the situation by drawing attention to [the rallies] and feeding the hype," Orsborn told HuffPost. "We're really examining what it looks like to be a good interfaith ally in this situation." 

1.  Organize An Interfaith Community Dinner 

The Spokane Interfaith Council, based in Washington, is organizing a community potluck dinner at Spokane's Islamic Center on October 10. 

"We would be remiss if we didn't take this opportunity to learn more about our neighbors in Spokane, for, we know that if we are not celebrating and sharing in the joys of our Muslim neighbors, our Jewish neighbors, our Sikh neighbors, we aren't creating community," the organizers wrote. 

2. Screen The Film "American Muslims: Facts vs. Fiction" 

Read more about how you can be a helpful ally from The Huffington Post.