Peaceful Protesters Outnumber Wyoming Anti-Islam Group at Koran Burning [PHOTOS]
An anti-Islam group burned a Koran in Gillette over the weekend, but the number of people assembled to denounce a religion followed by nearly one-fourth of the world's population was dwarfed by demonstrators who showed up to protest their act.
The burning of a book considered holy by some 1.6 billion people worldwide will certainly get more attention over the internet than it did on Saturday, when only about 15 people turned out in support.
"We understood that we may not have very many folks showing up, so we actually planned to make it an audio/visual experience we can share with others," said organizer Frank Jorge. "We're going to share it with hundreds of thousands of people on YouTube."
Jorge made it clear that Islamic terrorists or jihadist militants were not the focus of Saturday's gathering; rather, he and his group are targeting all of Islam, which they maintain is not a religion, but "a criminal organization that passes itself off as a religion."
"What we're looking at here in Gillette, all of a sudden you have a mosque, and that's what raised everybody's hackles," says Jorge, who could not identify any strife associated with the presence of Muslims in Gillette.
While Jorge addressed his band in a park shelter, another group roughly twice the size of the anti-Islam assembly stood by to represent the "silent majority" of Gillette residents, as described by Lisa Harry, who she says haven't responded to anti-Islamic rhetoric.
"This group will inevitably get media coverage and publicity from what they're doing, and I felt that our stance, our opinions needed to be represented as well so people know that we are out there, that we don't agree with that," said Harry. "I think they're a minority, but I think that they have impact because they're vocal and they're out there trying to get attention."
"They are a very small group. We're just standing against the hate that they represent and stand for," said Tanya Krummreich, who founded the group A Gillette Against Hate and protested the Koran burning to, as she put it, let the anti-Islam group know that they don't speak for Gillette, Wyoming or the majority of people in the United States.
"I believe that this group does not directly impact the community," Krummreich added.
"America is not the land of scared people. America is the land of brave people," said Mohammad Khan, a Muslim who has lived in Gillette for the past three years who addressed the crowd Saturday. "The people that came out here today, it just shows how brave everyone is around here."
Khan says he has been treated only with respect since he moved to Gillette from Denver.
"That's what makes America great -- you've got all these religions, all these minorities, and they're all living here in peace," Khan added. "We're going to continue to live in peace here."