What Humanists Need to Know about the Global Rally for Humanity

Humanists who haven’t yet heard about the Global Rally for Humanity scheduled for today, October 9, and tomorrow in some twenty cities across the US may be excused for thinking they’re missing out on something good. After all, a rally for humanity suggests people from all walks of life coming together to promote mutual understanding and to acknowledge…well, our shared humanity, right? Wrong. The rallies are being staged to protest radical Islam and will take place at mosques around the United States (where countless non-radical Muslim Americans go each day to practice their religion in peace).

The Global Rally for Humanity is being promoted on Facebook by Jon Ritzheimer, who organized a similar rally in Phoenix, Arizona, last May that drew hundreds of protesters (and a roughly equal number of counter-protesters). The call for coordinated rallies at mosques around the country may have originated with a plan to protest the “Justice or Else” march being held tomorrow in Washington, DC, on the twentieth anniversary of the Million Man March and which is being headlined by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Global Rally for Humanity said some 3,000 people will be protesting outside the Masjid Muhammad mosque in DC.

“Patriots, Veterans, Bikers, Militia, Reservists, active-duty Infidels and all AMERICANS who still LOVE LIBERTY and cling to the CONSTITUTION!!” reads Ritzheimer’s event page, “We’ll see y’all back at the Islamic Center of Phoenix starting at 9AM on October 10th, in support of Ole Glory, our American Heritage, our blood-bought Freedoms, and our American way of life.” And the page for the Dearborn, Michigan, rally makes the point of describing the event as “OPEN CARRY anti-mosque pro-AMERICA rally on 10/10!!”

It’s often a tough call whether it’s better to focus on events like this or let them proceed with less attention paid. If they garner lots of publicity in the days prior, they could explode into large and ugly demonstrations if enough Islamophobes turn out (not to mention the danger posed if they’re all armed).

However, it’s important to criticize people who say they want to exercise their constitutional right to protest radical Islam but do it by intimidating non-radical Muslims at their mosques. It’s important to answer the call for support from our friends at the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), who participated along with the American Humanist Association, the Interfaith Alliance, and other groups at yesterday’s 2015 Common Ground Conference at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The purpose of the event was to bring together religious believers, secular humanists, and nonbelievers for social progress and common good. Speaker and ISNA Program Coordinator Nadia Hassan alerted attendees to the planned events and expressed that many American Muslims are fearful of armed crowds outside mosques.

Humanists who want to show solidarity with peaceful Muslims should consider counter-protesting events in their areas. Carol Kuruvilla at the Huffington Post suggests ways individuals and interfaith groups can get involved to counter the hateful message of these anti-Muslim rallies. Likewise the Islamic Society of North America offers its own guidelines to the Muslim community and other people of good conscience. A rally for humanity should be humane, after all.