Armed Protestors Target ISNA 2018

Earlier this month, a group of 100 armed anti-Muslim protestors who flashed AK-47s and shotguns around the families who were attending the annual Islamic Society of North America Convention in Houston, Texas, were met by groups of counter-protests and police barricades. The armed protestors barked words of hate, provocation, and Islamophobia towards the attendees of the ISNA event. The Texas Patriot Network and other white supremacist groups led the protest outside the George R. Brown Centre where they maintained that "Muslim views" were not good for America. Their outlandish, racist, and xenophobic screams were led by a man named Doc Greene. Upon hearing his remarks about Muslims in America, it begs the question as to whether Trump's America truly is the primary catalyst that gives racists a platform to comfortably, and openly incite violence against ethnic and religious minorities in the country. With no ramifications whatsoever. It seems as if Islamophobia is becoming more and more normalized and in fact, encouraged. Greene proudly defended his support for the Texas Patriot Network. “We don’t hate anybody. We want every Muslim to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We want every Muslim that comes to America to become an American, and we want them to understand Sharia law is a really bad idea. It hasn’t worked any place it’s been tried, and it won’t work here. We welcome anyone that comes here and wants to be an American. And today, we also want people to know we are grateful for our president, Donald Trump, for making America great again.”       In due time, the armed protestors garnered attention and a police barricade. Then, a group of counter-protestors rallied outside the same centre and held up signs calling for the acceptance of refugees and immigrants and telling "Nazis [to] go home." The group of men and women who stood their ground against the armed protestors included the Houston Socialist Movement, International Socialist Organization, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Refuse Fascism, Socialist Alternative, Young Communist League, Huey P. Newton Gun Club, and New Black Panther Party. When things became heated, police began ushering groups that were part of the anti-protest across the street. After some time, an anti-Muslim protestor came to said side of the street and a scuffle broke out. Three to four people were handcuffed and arrested but later released. According to some sources, there was also a small group of people labelling themselves as "Ex-Muslims of North America." They stood directly in front of the doors of the lobby of the centre and provoked muslim families by throwing microphones in their faces asking questions suck as, "Do you support ex-Muslim right?" Police however, eventually banned them from the area for walking around at the Islamic convention wearing shirts that said "I'm an Ex-Muslim, ask me why."     American Muslims attend ISNA each year to celebrate diversity, acceptance, and peace. Muslims families from all over North America gather to explore and ignite a spiritual, personal Renaissance within themselves and with their relationship with God. It almost comes as no surprise that protests such as these ones are becoming more and more the norm all across the country. Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian Muslim-American activist who serves as the Executive Director of MPower Change and is also a co-chair of the Women’s March, wrote a piece for TIME earlier this year where she says,
Over the past year, this administration has put forth multiple versions of the Muslim ban, worked to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, targeted undocumented immigrants in mass deportation sweeps and employed manipulative, hateful rhetoric against our communities. Their shameless use of the courts to defend what they know is immoral and unconstitutional further shows their disregard for our nation’s laws. It has been both a privilege and an inspiration to stand with people resisting each effort, because behind the policy arguments are real people whose lives are being upended.
    From the Muslim ban to the constant verbal attacks on Muslims in the country by its President, America has become a hotpot of hate towards ethnic and religious minorities. When the country's leader propagates a narrative that is at its core, an attack on Islam and Muslims all over the world that paints us as the "other" that people ought to fear and mobilize to eradicate, then it becomes the norm. Radical white supremacist groups flourish under the guise of "free speech." Hate crimes against members of the Muslim community become normalized and this has spread across the border to Canada where attacks on Muslims have exponentially increased in places like Ontario and Quebec. Mosques have been vandalized all over North America. Attacks such as these incite others to follow suit. Linda continues in her piece and mentions the increased difficulties we face as Muslims in North America.
Since the horrific attacks of 9/11, Muslims in America have been met with racial and religious profiling by all levels of law enforcement. We’ve endured unwarranted and blanket surveillance, deportations and registration programs. We’ve also been erroneously placed on no-fly lists and experienced an exponential rise in hate crimes against our communities. We often found ourselves advocating in small groups, or alone. But over the last year, I felt a shift. This year was the first time we saw allies mobilizing for Muslims and fighting back against the racism and bigotry directed at us. My visible participation in the Women’s March in 2017 and the very successful anniversary earlier this month has been a heartwarming experience for Muslims across the world. It was inspiring. No matter how many Muslim bans or other ugly policies are introduced by Trump and his administration, one thing is clear — when we fight together, we win every time. Muslims cannot do this alone, and we should not do it alone.
  Despite the fact that the protests outside ISNA this year were unwarranted, they happened because a group of people felt that they were obligated to openly spread hate and fear against members of their own community. Is Trump's America foreshadowing the downfall of society itself? A world where neighbours harbour hatred for neighbours and fear mongers plague the streets in an attempt to provoke violence? American history may be trickled and plagued with colonial white supremacists who amass wealth and stature at the expense of their moral responsibilities to the entire society, but there's no doubt that Trump's America has unleashed a new wave of challenges for minorities who call America home.