Today, a short drive away from Friday’s fundraising event with Refuge Coffee Co., a very different gathering will happen in Atlanta. A series of anti-Muslim rallies are planned across the United States, including one to be staged in front of an Atlanta mosque.
These “freedom rallies” are a follow-up to anti-Muslim demonstrations that took place in May and July, outside of an Islamic community center in Phoenix, Arizona.
While many protestors brought anger and hate to those rallies, they were met by Muslims and others ready to extend a hand of friendship.
Usama Shami, the president of the ICCP, invited anyone to join him and the 800 members of the mosque for a prayer.
“A lot of them, they’ve never met a Muslim, or they haven’t had interactions with Muslims,” he said. “A lot of them are filled with hate and rage. Maybe they went to websites that charged them with this hatred. So when you sit down and talk like rational people, without all these slogans, without being bigots, without bringing guns, they will find out that they’re talking to another human.”
Jason Leger, a Phoenix resident wearing one of the profanity-laced shirts, accepted an invitation to join the evening prayer inside the mosque, and said the experience changed him.
“It was something I’ve never seen before. I took my shoes off. I kneeled. I saw a bunch of peaceful people. We all got along,” Leger said. “They made me feel welcome, you know. I just think everybody’s points are getting misconstrued, saying things out of emotion, saying things they don’t believe.” (Washington Post)
Today’s Atlanta rally and others are “open carry”, which means that organizers are encouraging participants to carry weapons openly and “exercise their full Constitutional rights”.
Of course, they are free to do that—the Constitution guarantees it.
What has been much more interesting to see are the responses cropping up in various Facebook pages designed to organize anti-Muslim rallies. Muslims, Christians, and others are offering to greet protestors with breakfast for those starting early, and water throughout the day.
What is meant to stir hate, is being met by love.
Preemptive Love happens in Iraq. It happens in Clarkston, served out of a coffee truck. And today it will happen on the fringes of rallies staged across the country.
Take a chance today, in your own backyard. Love, simply because you can. Remake your world.