Haynes, the director of the Newseum's Religious Freedom Education Project, notes that "anti-Muslim rhetoric has taken an ominous turn in recent months as a growing number of political and community leaders - some with tea-party affiliations - have begun warning of a ‘Muslim takeover' of America."
Haynes cites numerous anti-Muslim rallies from Tennessee to California, including the loud opposition to the construction of an Islamic center in New York City.
In recent months, tea-party groups in New York have also helped organize opposition to mosques in Manhattan (the controversial plan to build an Islamic center two blocks from ground zero), Brooklyn and Staten Island. Tea-party meetings in Tennessee, Texas and California feature speakers warning of the ‘Islamization of America.'
In an ironic twist reminiscent of the anti-Catholic rallies of the 19th century (warning against ‘Romanism' seeking ‘despotic control' of America), anti-mosque protests in Murfreesboro, Temecula and elsewhere feature groups of citizens invoking their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly to call for denying another group of citizens First Amendment protection.
If the anti-mosque protests are any indication, Islamophobia - the fear and loathing of Islam as a ‘violent political ideology' - is a growing threat to religious freedom in the United States. And in many communities, some tea-party activists are actively encouraging and supporting this dangerous trend.
[image via commons.wikimedia.org]