US Mosques step up security as anti-Islam protesters encouraged to bring guns

Anti-Islamic sentiment has risen in the US in recent years.Reuters

Mosques across the US have been urged to step up security in response to a number of planned protests by an anti-Islam group this weekend.

Demonstrators are said to be planning to protest outside at least 21 mosques, community centres and government offices on October 9 and 10, under the umbrella group 'Global Rally for Humanity'.

The group's Facebook page says "Humanity is attacked daily by radical Islam", and has encouraged "patriots" to organise protests in their local area. Some have called on fellow protestors to carry guns. The organiser of a protest in Phoenix, Arizona, urged attendees: "be vigilant to exercise ALL of your Constitutional rights!! It's way past time to stand up to the anti-human tyranny of Islam".

The Council for Islamic-American Relations (CAIR), North America's biggest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation, told the IB Times that it had been aware of the plans for over a month, and is wary of giving attention to "people seeking cheap publicity".

However spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said, "There's been enough violent rhetoric around this event that we just felt it prudent to alert the community about what actions they can take to make sure everyone is safe and secure."

CAIR has therefore released advice to mosques across the country, suggesting that they increase security measures over the weekend.

"Media reports and monitoring of anti-Muslim hate sites indicate that a small group of anti-Muslim extremists with a history of violent rhetoric are attempting to organize hate rallies outside a number of mosques across the nation," a statement said.

"Organizers of the hate rallies have indicated that participants in states with open carry laws may be armed and that provocations such as the use of live pigs and Qur'an desecrations may occur."

The rallies come at a time of "increased hate-motivated crimes and bias incidents nationwide targeting persons and property associated, or perceived to be associated, with Islam and the American Muslim community," CAIR said, though noting that it's possible the protests will be very small, or may not take place at all.

However, the statement added that "given the recent endorsement of Islamophobia by national public figures, it would only be prudent for mosque and community leaders to prepare for any eventuality".

Anti-Islam marches held by German right-wing group PEGIDA in Europe have drawn crowds of as many as 20,000. By contrast, individual Facebook events for Global Rally for Humanity marches have attracted less than 100.