Yesterday before noon, a few religulous leaders held a press conference outside the Masjid Jamaat Al-Mumineen mosque in Margate, preparing for that night's rally against the mosque and Islam in general.
What happened last night at the protest, however, went beyond blatant Islamophobia. These protesters were seemingly at war with truth, justice, and rational thought.
They certainly had the right to protest -- aside from their Constitutional right to assembly, the mosque's former imam, 24-year-old Izhar Khan, had been indicted in a conspiracy to support the Pakistani Taliban.
Mosque leaders have insisted since Khan's arrest that no one else in the mosque was ever under formal investigation, nor has the mosque itself. The FBI has even said itself that Khan's indictment implies no wrongdoing by the mosque.
But not only did the protesters believe Khan was guilty from the get-go, they also implicate the mosque, as well as all of Islam, for the world's ills -- right there in Margate.
The typical fear-mongering signs and slogans were there -- "Muslims and sharia law must go" and "stop citizenship for enemies."
Then the lunatic irrationality came out.
A woman in the crowd is talking to a man about bringing her young daughter to the protest, and says to him, "You have to be wondering if they're the reason for all the missing kids."
A man makes a puzzling reference to President Obama's birth certificate, while Nezar Hamze -- the executive director of the South Florida's Council on American-Islamic Relations -- tries to explain to a conservative radio host that the only thing people do at the mosque is "come here and pray."
Twenty or 30 mosque-goers are standing in the front of their building, watching the lunacy of the people are on the other side of the hedges.
"Murderers!" a man screams in their direction.
"Are you going to blow up our daycare centers?" a woman yells hysterically.
The protesters suddenly burst into singing "God Bless America" in unison. The mosque's worshipers join in the singing, eventually drowning out the other side.
It looked like a confusing moment for the protesters -- when they realized that the mosque's members were American too.
The protesters still kept yelling, but the crowd began to dissipate. At 8:12 p.m., the mosque's members went inside for sunset prayer, and the protesters vanished.
Check out New Times' photo slideshow of the protest here.
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