Columbia PD to increase patrolling of Islamic Center this weekend
COLUMBIA – The Islamic Center of Central Missouri will have an additional sense of security this weekend due to nationwide, armed anti-Islam protesting.
ICCM Chairman Mohammad Eldeib said the Columbia Police Department agreed to intensify its watch on the center to prevent any potential violence.
“We pray as our first protection, but are glad to know the community is taking this seriously as well,” Eldeib said.
The Islamic Society of North America responded to protest plans by encouraging Muslims across the country to “defend religious freedom with greater civic engagement.”
“It’s important that we are able to teach people what Islam truly is about,” Eldeib said. “The word ‘Islam' means peace.”
Anti-Islamic protestors created a Facebook page called “Global Rally for Humanity” and on it write, “humanity is attacked daily by radical Islam.”
Despite the strong opposition, ICCM member Rafa Nizam said this weekend could become a vital learning opportunity.
“I feel like it could be worthwhile for people to learn what true Islam is,” Nizam said. “To come to these community centers, learn Muslim practice and how it is fundamentally opposed to these acts of violence and terrorism.”
According to the Islamic Society of North America, the protestors will target 23 mosques across the country, but not Columbia's. The Facebook page encourages people to start their own respective groups to protest in areas not included in the 23.
“We’re working with the police to make sure every member of the community is safe,” Nizam said. “But this is a chance to see where these anti-Muslim sentiments stem from.”