Group promotes anti-Muslim protests across America

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- An anti-Muslim group is calling for nationwide protests at mosques over the weekend. But so far, none have been planned here in the Bay Area. Bay Area Muslims tell ABC7 News that they believe there is great acceptance and tolerance in this part of the country. But that may not be true in other areas. And that is what a protest group is trying to capitalize on.

ABC7 News was there as it was prayer time at the Muslim Community Association's mosque in Santa Clara. However, the FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security have alerted mosques across the country of possible protests outside by a group called Global Rally for Humanity.

That group's social media site is clearly anti-Muslim. Graphics on the site include rifles and a video, which we will not play, that shows a man shooting a gun at a Quran.

"It is intended to be inflammatory," said Zahra Billoo, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR. "We are hoping what it will do is help our fellow Americans understand just how hateful these activists are and the length they will go to offend, aggravate, and cause harm."

Fresno State Provost Lynnette Zelezny sent an email to faculty Thursday night, explaining Muslim students could be excused from class and then sent a follow-up clarification that reads:

"We were made aware of national concerns Thursday evening indicating potential threats across the country on Friday against Muslim students. We are taking the precautionary step of allowing our Muslim students to be excused from classes on Friday. It is not necessary for faculty to cancel classes entirely. While we do not know of any threats locally, we are aware there are concerns elsewhere and we are being proactive in order to make our students feel safe, which is essential to their success."

Major Bay Area colleges and universities did not take that same step.

"We have seen individual instances of hate crimes even in California, so we appreciate the sensitivity of Fresno State in being pro-active to address any fears that their community members may have," Billoo said.

One of the protests was planned for an Oakland mosque, but apparently was cancelled.

Tarek Mourad does outreach to explain Islam to others. While he has experienced anti-Muslim sentiment, he doesn't have any fear.

"On occasion we've had somebody come and protest around outside here," he said. "We've had some people kind of use foul language around us in prayers and so on. But you know, we can't live in fear. We just can't. Life is too rich to do that."

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