When the ceremonies conclude in New York City today for the ninth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, some of the commemorators will break off to attend a different kind of rally — one that brings the Islamophobic fervor of the past few weeks to a head.
Today at 3 p.m. ET, at the proposed site for Park51 on Park Place and West Broadway in downtown Manhattan, people will gather for the “FDI/SIOA 9/11 Rally of Remembrance: Yes to Freedom, No to Ground Zero Mosque,” a rally in opposition to the planned Islamic center.
The event is hosted by Stop Islamization Of America (SIOA) and the Freedom Defense Initiative (FDI), two anti-Muslim groups both run by AtlasShrugs blogger Pamela Geller, and director of JihadWatch.org Robert Spencer. Together they also wrote a book called The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America.
SIOA calls itself a “a human rights organization dedicated to freedom of speech, religious liberty, and individual rights; no special rights for special classes.” The FDI aims to act “against the treason being committed by national, state, and local government officials, the mainstream media, and others in their capitulation to the global jihad and Islamic supremacism.”
And several politicians — some from New York, some from as far away as The Netherlands — are scheduled to speak to the crowd.
Among them is former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, who is rumored to be mulling a run for president in 2012, and who will make his speech via video message. Big Government’s Andrew Breitbart will also be videoing it in.
According to the SIOA site, some 9/11 family members will be on the scene to speak, as will “Dutch Parliamentarian and freedom fighter Geert Wilders.” Wilders told The Guardian in 2008 that “Islam is not a religion, it’s an ideology.” The “ideology of a retarded culture.”
if we allow mosques to go up like mushrooms everywhere there is a terrorist bombing or shooting we will create a perverse incentive, not a deterrent. This mosque at Ground Zero will serve as a big trophy and we are welcoming it?
There’s former CIA officer Gary Berntsen, who is running in the Republican primary for Sen. Chuck Schumer’s seat. He explained in a debate last month that he opposes “construction of that mosque because I’ve spent 20 years fighting Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists. I know what they do. That mosque, at that location will be a magnet for militants.”
According to SIOA, Susan Kone, a Republican congressional candidate in NY-8, conservative radio host Mike Gallagher, Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, “Muslim Iranian activist” Sam Khoshbaten, and “Coptic Christian activist” Joseph Nassralla are also confirmed speakers.
There are a number of counter-protests going on as well. One rally today, organized by the International Action Center, will hold their own “emergency mobilization against racism and anti-Muslim bigotry.” Tomorrow, Religious Freedom USA has organized a “Liberty Walk,” with Dr. Katherine Henderson, President of Auburn Theological Seminary, and Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky of Congregation Ansche Chesed attending as keynote speakers, and groups like the progressive Israel lobby J Street participating as well.
But in all likelihood, these events won’t see the same kind of national attention as the “Rally of Remembrance.” The SIOA site is even touting a purportedly large cross-country caravan, which will cart in protesters from across the country, and even has its own Facebook “Ground Zero-Transportation Exchange” page with 834 members.
The site “No Mosques At Ground Zero” says the word on the street is “that the cars, trucks and vans will be festooned with yellow ribbons, flags, flags and more flags as they drive across America to the 9/11 Day of Remembrance.” It also posted some pictures of sample artwork people are supposedly painting on their cars — one of which is a picture of the twin towers burning. See it here.
Geller and the International Action Center did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment.
I’ll be on the scene at the rally today. Stay tuned for updates.