At a rally this weekend in Gillette, a Wyoming anti-Islam group is planning to burn a Quran.
According to the group’s website, members of Americans For A Secure Wyoming are calling to “ban Islam from Wyoming,” though the group does not explain how that could be enforced.
Last year, members of a different online group Stop Islam In Gillette protested the opening of Gillette’s first mosque.
Gillette mayor Louise Carter-King said the protests do not reflect positively on what she describes as a welcoming community.
“It’s just unfortunate because it does kind of make it look like there’s quite a movement up here, and there really isn’t,” she said.
Carter-King issued a statement condemning anti-Muslim sentiment in regards to last year’s protest, and condemned it again in light of this Quran burning.
“They’re just hate filled, and it’s just sad that that’s what they want to do with their time,” she said. “It’s too bad they don’t put their efforts to something positive for the community.”
Carter-King said she hopes this rally turns out like previous protests, where counter-protesters came out to voice their support for Gillette’s Muslim citizens.
Burning a Quran may be viewed as hateful, but Linda Burt, the former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Wyoming, said as long as the group is not encouraging violence or illegal acts, offensive speech is still protected under the First Amendment.
“Constitutional rights have to apply to everyone, even those people that we disagree with or even those people who we think the speech is offensive speech,” said Burt. “If it doesn’t apply to everyone then it means very little.”
Previous burnings of Qurans in the U.S. have prompted protests at home and abroad.