The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations will hold an interfaith rally and food drive Saturday outside the Al-Farooq Masjid in Midtown.
The “No to Extremism and Bigotry. Yes to Service and Unity” rally will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 422 14th St. NW.
The rally is in response to another event being held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in Piedmont Park and organized by ACT for America.
In a release, CAIR referred to the Piedmont Park rally as an “anti-Islam protest.”
“We see them as a hate group, and the Southern Poverty Law Center sees them as a hate group,” said CAIR spokeswoman Ruwa Romman. “They say they’re anti-Sharia and that they want U.S. law, but unfortunately what you’re seeing is that once they start talking, they don’t actually differentiate between judicial applications of faith and the faith itself. It’s bizarre to me that I have to push back on both ACT and ISIS in the same way about the interpretation of my faith.”
Scott Presler, lead activism strategist, rejects ACT being labeled as anti-Muslim.
“I want to shut that down right here and now,” he said. “This is not anti-Muslim at all." Rather, he said, it’s anti-Sharia law.
“To anyone saying those horrible things about us, we have Muslims who are marching with us across America,” he said.
Mohamed Ameen, of Decatur, is helping organize the local event.
“I stand in solidarity with the people who don’t want Islamic laws to overtake the Constitution,” said Ameen, a Muslim who was born in Ceylon. “Even as a Muslim I want freedom of speech and I want to protect people’s right to criticize my religion and I want to be able to criticize their religion without consequences.”
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Sharia is a system of duties that are incumbent upon a Muslim by virtue of his religious belief. It constitutes a divinely ordained path of conduct that guides Muslims.
The Southern Poverty Law Center does indeed identify ACT for America as an anti-Muslim “extremist” group. On its website, the Southern Poverty Law Center said the organization "has grown into far and away the largest grass-roots anti-Muslim group in America."
It has more than 68,000 followers on Twitter. There it calls itself the “NRA of national security.”
In one video, founder Brigitte Gabriel railed against “the fake news media,” the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
She calls President Donald Trump’s proposed ban on immigrants from certain Muslim countries “necessary.”
“America is not Europe. We are taking action,” she said.
During the interfaith event, Georgia Muslims and other faith-based and secular speakers plan to honor the memory of those killed in recent hate crimes in the U.S. as well as terrorist attacks overseas. They will also collect food to donate to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
"The best way for Georgia's interfaith community to counter hate and bigotry is to embrace service and unity in a separate and safe environment," Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of CAIR-Georgia, said in a release.
He also invites the public to attend an ICCA Ramadan Interfaith Dinner at 7:45 p.m. Saturday at the Islamic Community Center of Atlanta, 288 E. Lanier Ave. in Fayetteville.