Mosque protests are springing up all over the United States. It seems as though disparate groups are taking up the rallying cry against Islam and Muslims. Is this anti-Muslim sentiment a blip on our screen or is it a reflection of the coalescing of disparate forces into one larger anti-Muslim movement?
Waving signs such as “Muslims Danced with Joy on 9/11,” about 20 protesters gathered outside a Temecula Islamic Center today to protest Islam, calling it a political movement that oppresses women and seeks to place the world under a brutal system of religious law.
A larger group of counter protesters wore white shirts in solidarity with the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley and carried signs such as “Leave These American Citizens Alone.” Police stood between some counter protesters who crossed Rio Nedo to confront the other side.
While both sides exchanged heated words, the midday protest ended peacefully and police reported no arrests.
The protest announced on a local and a national Tea Party website came in response to the Islamic center’s plan to build a 25,000-square-foot mosque on the other end of town. The mosque is scheduled to go before the Temecula Planning Commission in mid-November.
Some opponents said they see the mosque as part of a larger effort by Muslims to silence non-believers and destroy constitutional rights.
“Islam is a political movement and to have a mosque, you have to have Sharia law,” said Diane Seraphin of Murrieta.
“They’re infiltrating as much as they can,” said Lois Cowan of Hemet. “It’s a desire to take over.”
The executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who was at the protest, said the protesters were ignorant fear-mongers.
“We’re living Islam in America. That’s the greatest counter-argument to Al-Qaeda,” said Salam Al-Marayati. “We are Americans. We’ve made a pledge to this country and that is equal to a pledge to God.”
Joelle Budzynowski of Anza, who wore a white headscarf to support the Muslims, said she was welcomed warmly by Muslims while travelling in Egypt and other predominantly Islamic countries.
“I believe God is love and love is God,” she said. “We should tolerate other people.”
A couple protestors brought their dogs. A notice about the protest accused Muslims of killing dogs and encouraged protesters to bring canines. Muslim-American advocates said Muslims don’t hate dogs.