Senior Democrat politicians are due to attend a major American Muslim conference which starts on Friday, but so are armed far-right activists.
Presidential hopefuls Julian Castro and Bernie Sanders are scheduled to attend the annual ISNA conference in Texas, as are a host of Muslim speakers and the famous comedian Trevor Noah.
Hosted by the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Emgage Foundation, the conference will take place at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.
Speaking to the Houston Chronicle, the organisers said they expect upwards of 30,000 participants to attend. The event hopes to encourage an increased Muslim American electoral participation as the U.S. nears the 2020 presidential election.
The annual Houston event comes at a time when the country is gripped by rising anti-Muslim sentiment, much of it spearheaded by U.S. President Donald Trump and his Republican Party.
But the Texas Patriot Network, a far-right group that supports Trump, has called for a protest against the conference, which it described as a “terrorist fundraiser” supposedly linked to the “Muslim Brotherhood.”
In the Facebook event’s description, Texas Patriot Network informed supporters that “open carry is allowed”, referring to carrying a firearm in public.
The far-right news site One America News claimed in the lead-up to the conference: “Far-left socialist candidates … have agreed to speak at a convention with blatant ties to radical Islamic terrorists.”
This year’s annual convention, along with the protests, comes on the heels of surging hate crimes, many of them targeting Muslims.