The man planning to shred a Quran and a picture of the Prophet Muhammad during an armed rally in Georgia this Monday has a favorite presidential candidate.
"I support Donald Trump because I like his agenda on dealing with the threats to this country -- his ban on Islamic immigration," Jim Stachowiak told The Huffington Post over the phone Tuesday, adding that Muslim immigrants and refugees to the U.S. are "no more than an invading horde or army."
Stachowiak is the organizer behind the “United against Islam and Islamic immigration refugee rally” on Monday in Atlanta, which he wrote is to “raise public awareness to what we perceive as a threat to our nation from Islamic immigration and refugees."
Stachowiak has urged attendees to bring loaded weapons to the event, which he says will start outside the Georgia Capitol and conclude outside the headquarters of CNN.
Planned activities include the desecration of a copy of the Quran, as well as pictures of the Prophet Muhammad, Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Although he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he expects about 200 people to attend, Stachowiak told HuffPost only a "few" people would probably show up.
State Capitol police are nevertheless wary and issued an advisory to state employees this week.
“The Georgia Department of Public Safety and the Georgia Building Authority anticipate a non-permitted, anti-Islamic protest on the sidewalks of the Georgia State Capitol,” Capitol Police Director Lewis G. Young said in a statement. “You are hereby notified that protest organizers have encouraged their participants to carry loaded long guns."
“DPS is currently monitoring the threat risk and, together with GBA, is taking precautions to make Capitol Hill a safe environment,” it continued.
The rally comes amid months of heightened anti-Muslim rhetoric from Republican presidential candidates, including Trump, and a surge in acts of violence and discrimination against American Muslims.
In a video posted to Facebook announcing the rally, Stachowiak, wearing a "DEATH TO ISIS" sweatshirt and holding a rifle, says the Quran is "nothing more than toilet paper writings spurted from hell and it should be treated with the respect that you would give a piece of dirty toilet paper.”
His plan to desecrate a Quran is sadly not all that unusual. Earlier this month, anti-Muslim demonstrators outside a Phoenix mosque ripped out a page from a copy of the holy book, as did another demonstrator at a protest at the University of Tennessee.
On a recent episode of his podcast, "Freedom Fighter Radio," Stachowiak interviewed the people behind a viciously anti-Muslim site called BombIslam.com, which appears to advocate for dropping nuclear bombs on predominantly Muslim countries. In a disturbing video posted to the site's YouTube channel last month, at least two men appear to desecrate a Quran outside a mosque in Tempe, Arizona, as stunned and angry congregants look on.
In the interview with HuffPost on Tuesday, Stachowiak also boasted of being associated with Terry Jones, the Florida pastor whose 2010 plan to burn a copy of the Quran sparked international outcry, and whose burning of a Quran in 2011 provoked deadly riots in Afghanistan.
Jones, who the Southern Poverty Law Center once described as a member of the country's "Anti-Muslim Inner Circle," also had a hand in the promotion of the Islamophobic film "Innocence of Muslims," which led to protests across the Middle East in 2012. Stachowiak said Tuesday that he too was one of the film's "biggest" promoters.
Stachowiak is on the radar of the SPLC, which monitors hate groups, and is known among both anti-government "Patriot" militias and anti-Muslim organizations. Just last month, he filmed himself standing outside an Islamic center in Augusta, Georgia, while holding a rifle. “All mosques are simply barracks for jihad,” he wrote in the video’s caption on Facebook.
Also on his Facebook page, among many vile anti-Muslim memes, Stachiowak posted an image with text reading "Stay Calm and Vote Trump." And in a video, Stachiowak can be seen wearing a Trump T-shirt, a gun holstered on his side.
"It's important to know everyone coming [to Monday's rally] -- we're all Trump supporters," Stachowiak said of his fellow anti-Muslim and militia activists. "We totally stand behind Trump."
It's not that surprising to see why.
In the last year, the Republican front-runner has called for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S., claimed he saw Muslims in New Jersey cheering after the 9/11 attacks, said "Islam hates us," told an apocryphal story about Muslims being killed with bullets dipped in pig's blood, and cited a widely discredited poll from the Center for Security Policy -- a hate group -- that stated a quarter of Muslims support violent jihadists and the Islamic State.
Trump has already earned the endorsements of white nationalists like Jared Taylor and former KKK grand wizard David Duke.
According to a recent SPLC report, 2015 saw a rise in the number of anti-Muslim hate groups and anti-government militias in the United States. These groups, the report said, have been bolstered by the vitriolic rhetoric of those in the Republican primary, particularly Trump.
The Islamophobia of people like Stachowiak does not exist in a vacuum. When pressed about his fear of Muslims in the U.S., he cited deeply dubious statistics and conspiracy theories propagated by a small group of established, well-funded anti-Muslim foundations.
Stachowiak, for example, believes the disproven polls that 1 in 4 Muslims support violence against Americans and that over half support the implementation of strict Islamic law in the United States. He believes in the debunked theory that there's a coordinated plan among Muslims -- often referred to as "civilization jihad" -- to overthrow the U.S. government.
This election season, Trump and other Republican candidates have helped bring such paranoid animus towards Muslims into the mainstream. Former contender Ben Carson frequently talked about "civilization jihad" on the campaign trail. And Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) recently hired Frank Gaffney, who heads an anti-Muslim hate group, as a foreign policy adviser.
This rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric has corresponded with a rise in acts of violence and discrimination against American Muslims. In the month after the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. tripled.
Stachowiak said he's going through with Monday's rally no matter what. The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is urging local Muslims to ignore the rally "so as to deprive the organizers of the free publicity they seek for their message of hate."
"Hatred of Muslims and Islam stems from ignorance," Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of the CAIR chapter, said in a statement. "We encourage these protesters to put down their guns, cancel their unsanctioned rally, and meet with representatives of our state's Muslim community for an open and frank discussion of their concerns."
"The Holy Quran instructs Muslims to respond to evil with something better, so that friendship can arise between us and those who hate us," he added. "I call on all Georgia mosques, Islamic organizations and residents to redouble outreach efforts as a positive response to this hate rally."
Stachowiak didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on CAIR's invitation to discuss his concerns.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist
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