Hundreds of supporters from nearby cities stood with the residents of an all-Muslim New York town, in defiance of an Islamophobic motorbike gang.
American Bikers United Against Jihad is a group that purports to “raise awareness” against “violent and stealth Jihad” they say threatens the security and liberty of America. The anti-Muslim group spent months calling for people to join them on a “ride to national security” — which, more accurately, was a rally to harass the Muslim community at Islamberg, a small Muslim town three hours from New York.
The bikers hoped for a crowd of hundreds to accompany them, but only five bikers and five cars arrived to drive past the Sufi community in Delaware County.
In fact, the riders were completely overshadowed by a crowd of 400 interfaith people, who had come from Oneonta, Cooperstown, Hancock and even Georgia and South Carolina, to stand in a show of solidarity with their Muslim neighbors.
As the bikers — many of who wore masks — made their way towards the town, the flag-waving residents and supporters of Islamberg blocked their way chanting “freedom, justice, USA!” and “stop harassing American muslims!”
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Forbidden by the police to stop in the middle of the road and block traffic, the drive-by lasted for less than minute and the bikers did not engage the crowd.
After witnessing the ride-by, the supporters were welcomed by the residents of town and offered lunch, music and praise from the community leaders.
“We’re excited to be here to support our neighbors,” said Oneonta Council member Michelle Osterhoudt. “It’s amazing how many people were here to support Islamberg and how few showed from the biker group.”
Islamberg, founded in 1984 by the organization the Muslims of America, comprises mostly African Americans, and has a population of 200.
In November 2015, the FBI issued an alert to NYPD after Jon Ritzheimer, a vlogger who was also involved in the standoff at the Malheur wildlife refuge in Oregon, claimed in an online video that he planned to raid Islamberg and confront its residents.
A series of conspiracy theories claiming Muslim-American towns are the breeding grounds for extremists have led people to believe Islamberg is one of those “Jihad training camps.” Even though authorities have continuously tried to debunk the myth, they have been unable to completely discourage white supremacists.