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Extremists Hold Weekend Of Anti-Islam Hate; Mainstream Americans Push Back With Rallies And Interfaith Events

For months, extremist pastor Terry Jones’s Dove World Outreach Center planned to hold “International Burn a Qur’an Day,” where Jones’s congregation would publicly burn copies of the Islamic holy text. While Jones back down in the face of public rebuke from officials like Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his hate campaign spawned a number of copycat extremists across the country who enacted their own plans to burn the Islamic holy book, held anti-Muslim rallies, and vandalized Muslim places of worship:

— A burned Qur’an, its “pages covered in feces,” was found outside a mosque in East Lansing, Michigan. The FBI is currently investigating the incident. [9/11/10]

“Stop Islamization of America” held a 1,500 person-strong rally against the Park 51 Islamic community center in New York City, with the headline speaker being Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who has called Islam “the ideology of a retarded culture.” [9/11/10]

— In Springfield, Tennessee, two pastors burned copies of the Qur’an, “answering what they say was a message from God.” The burning “took place in front of just a handful of people, most of them from the media.” [9/12/10]

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— A burned and shot Qur’an was left outside the Annoor Mosque in Knoxville, Tennessee. [9/12/10]

Yet as extremists continued their anti-Islam crusade, a broad majority of mainstream Americans pushed back against hate over the weekend. They held rallies, hosted interfaith events, and even utilized skateboards to fight back against the rising tide of Islamophobia among the far right:

— Leaders of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths in Atlanta, including the “dean of the Civil Rights Movement,” Rev. Joseph Lowery, held a press conference and rally “on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary” to denounce religious bigotry. [9/10/10]

— More than a thousand people attended an interfaith event in Gainesville, Florida, where Jones originally planned to burn the Qur’an. Members of the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Hindu faiths attended the event. [9/10/10]

75 people, including “Christians, Jews, Quakers, members of the Baha’i” faith, gathered in Santa Cruz, California, for an interfaith rally at the Town Clock. [9/11/10]

— As ThinkProgress previously reported, a 23 year-old skateboarder named Jacob Isom stopped the burning of a Qur’an by a radical right-wing pastor. Isom grabbed the book before the pastor was able to light it on fire, telling him, “Dude, you have no Qur’an,” before taking off. [9/11/10]

In Rochester, New York, scores of people attended a rally and heard speeches from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim leaders about the need to be tolerant of other faiths. Former Rochester mayor Bill Johnson keynoted the event. Watch local news station WAHM 13’s report about the rally:

Update:

A man also ripped pages out of a Qur’an and set them on fire near Ground Zero in New York City.