An Inverness-based firearms store is spearheading an anti-muslim rally at the Masjid Darul-Islam Center on Saturday in Ocala.
Florida Gun Supply is hosting the event and has 31 members signed up to attend according to the Facebook event page. Organizers are telling attendees, “feel free to bring your favorite anti-Islam signs, shirts, flags, etc.” and “if you have a concealed carry permit, you are welcome to carry.”
It is unclear what the response from county and state officials will be for the rally, which is classified as a special event by Marion County’s Code Of Ordinance under Article III, Section 10-31. Florida Gun Supply had not secured any permits for the rally as of Friday evening.
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office will have a presence at the mosque, located at 6915 West Highway 40 in Ocala, according to MCSO Public Information Officer Lauren Lettelier.
“We’ve been made aware of this protest and will have deputies there on scene to be able to monitor the situation and to provide security if needed,” Lettelier said.
Lettelier also said the duty of the sheriff’s office would be to act as a safety precaution, not to act as code enforcement for any broken ordinances.
The rally is part of a Global Rally for Humanity, with events arranged in about 20 cities around the nation on October 9 and 10. Andy Hallinan, the owner of Florida Gun Supply, who has previously made news for being outspoken against Muslims, could not be reached for comment.
The 20-year-old mosque is a small green-and-white building with a golden dome, hidden down a small gravel trail off Highway 40. About 150 members show up each Friday for five separate prayers throughout the day. Behind the mosque’s is the accompanying school, where a small group of children attend under the supervision of Principal Firdos Fareeduddin.
“If the people come, you have to take them as your guests, you have to make some food for them or bring some soda or chips,” said Fareeduddin. “They don’t know about Islam, and you have to really introduce them to it, it’s just a misunderstanding.”
Fareeduddin isn’t sure what to expect this weekend, but she received numerous calls from concerned community members. The Council on American-Islamic Relations also put out an awareness alert, which held a community safety webinar Thursday and asked that Muslims in the area stay calm but alert.
“They are scared that maybe we are doing something scary here. Believe me, we aren’t doing anything here,” Fareeduddin said. “Look, check, there’s nothing here but just to worship, nobody is doing anything against anybody.”