A local screening of an anti-Islam movie by far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders in Tennessee has sparked Americans protests, deploring the hatred message it conveys.
"We're here to voice another side," Pat Handlson, minister of Cookeville First Presbyterian Church and event organizer, told Herald-Citizen Newspapers on Saturday, August 20.
Wilders movie, A Warning to America, was broadcasted in Cookeville county commission chambers on Friday.
The Tennessee Freedom Coalition's event is organized by Rachel Welch, the vice-chair of the Putnam County Republican Party.
Rejecting the message of the movie, around 100 peaceful protestors gathered outside the courthouse last night with signs saying "We love Muslims" and "All religions believe in justice.”
The demonstration of Wilders hateful message in the movie is not the first in Tennessee.
Last May, he made a visit to Nashville in the course of an event to honor the anti-Islam speaker sponsored by the Tennessee Freedom Coalition.
Spreading his hateful message, Wilders, the leader of the far-right Freedom Party (PVV), called for closing Islamic schools and halting construction of mosques.
He also called for banning immigrants from “non-Western and especially Islamic countries,” and expelling any immigrants who do not “assimilate.”
Wilders is notorious for his rants against Islam and Muslims.
He has called for banning the Noble Qur’an, describing the Muslim holy book as “fascist”.
In 2008, the far-right politician released a 15-minute documentary accusing the Qur'an of inciting violence.
Ahead of last year’s general elections, Wilders’ anti-immigrant party campaigned to "stop the Islamization of the Netherlands", and the building of new mosques.
His party’s anti-Islam campaigns, however, have helped it make its biggest gains since Wilders has founded it in 2006.
Negative FeelingsProtesters decried the movie message, saying it fuels growing anti-Muslims rhetoric in the south-eastern US state of Tennessee, already intensified over calls to ban Shari`ah law in courts.
A heated debate also surrounded plans to construct new Muslim center in Murfreesboro when local residents waged a fierce campaign to hinder the project.
"I think it's sad there's been such negativity surrounding the Murfreesboro mosque," Handlson said.
Yet, he hoped their protests would reflect the true feelings of love shared for the Muslim community.
"I just wanted everyone here to be a witness to this event," Handlson continued.
"To be a witness to love your God and love your neighbor. We all can co-exist."
Though there are no official figures, America is believed to be home to nearly seven million Muslims.
US Muslims have been sensing a growing hostility following a hearing presented by representative Peter King on what he described as “radicalization” of US Muslims.
Recently, a Republican Missouri lawmaker described Islam as a disease like polio while another Alaska Rep. branded Muslims as ‘occupiers’ of American neighborhoods.
Condemning repeated attacks, CAIR called last March on the Republicans to end fear mongering campaigns targeting Islam, urging all moderate lawmakers to stand up to the US anti-discrimination principles.
A recent survey by the Pew Research Center has showed that the majority of Americans know very little about Islam.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll has also found that more than half Americans already hold negative views about the faith.