A group of North Dakotans came together today in civil disobedience, protesting what they say was an anti-Muslim event.
They raised their signs, and their voices to speak up for their neighbors.
“I’m all for freedom of speech, the only thing I would say is with freedom of speech is to make sure what you’re saying doesn’t hurt innocent people,” Aamna, Bismarck-Mandan Muslim community member says.
Aamna is part of the Bismarck Mandan Muslim community.
“There are a lot of similarities among all the religious groups living here in Bismarck, and North Dakota has been growing in diversity and ethnic diversity, and religious diversity, and I think it’s a beautiful thing,” Aamna says.
Diversity that protesters say is being vilified by “For Our Children’s” event speaker, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff.
According to Wolff’s website, she is an Austrian human rights and anti-sharia law activist who was asked to come to Bismarck to speak on the importance of speaking out for freedom of speech.
“I believe it’s time for grassroots people to stand up and start talking about [free speech] Why? So that the word can get out that there are people trying to take it away,”John Boustead, Founder of “For Our Children” says.
But according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, those speeches are anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim.
And this protester says standing up for free speech doesn’t include hate.
“I’m a Mandan resident, I’m part of the Bismarck-Mandan community, and that’s not the narrative I see every day,” Eichelle Messana, counter protest organizer says.
Because she says hate isn’t what her community is all about.
“I just wanted to make sure that all of our Muslim neighbors know that at least I personally am not anti-Muslim — that I love the fact that we have a diverse and vibrant community here in Bismarck,” Messana says.
And despite some differences, Aamna says she still takes pride in being a North Dakotan.
“North Dakota is one of the most tolerant states. It’s one of the most blessed places to live in, and you’re not going to spread hate,” Aamna says.
Our reporter did ask to speak with Wolff as well as have access to the “For Our Children” event but no media was allowed inside.