Anti-Islam protester Phoenix Arizona (image via Matthew Keys)
In a modern day scene from a region once known as the “wild west” anti-Islam protesters gathered near an Islamic community centre in Phoenix Arizona exercising their “right to bear arms”. The so called “freedom of speech” rally was organized by ex-Marine Jon Ritzheimer who believes “true Islam is terrorism” and aimed to sell “F..ck Islam T-shirts at the event. Muslims attending the local mosque were advised to steer clear of the event and police presence was stepped up in case of violence. Today it was Muslim communities under attack, for many years it has also been the Native Americans suffering prejudice as I noted during a past trip to Phoenix.
The following photo shows a protester allegedly preparing for the rally.
“United States nationalism such an intolerant society” (image posted by Has’saan Hashmi)
Yesterday I wrote on the background to the anti-Islam and “Draw Muhammad” rally and explained how depicting the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in visual form is seen as highly offensive in Islam, see following link for details of earlier story,
“Ex-marine likely to incite tensions with cartoon portraying tattooed Prophet naked on prayer rug with Obama”
Cartoons were posted online yesterday on a page promoting the rally, I wrote,
A perusal of the FB page showed cartoon images likely to cause great offence to many Muslims. One entitled “Obama and Muhammad on a prayer rug” shows a naked President in a compromising position kneeling behind Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who is on all fours wearing nothing but a pakol (Pashtun hat) both bodies are tatooed. Writing accompanying the image reads, “Islam is not a religion. Islam is a stone worshipping cult of hate and oppression.” Another cartoon is entitled the “vile” Prophet Muhammad and depicts the Prophet as a dinosaur carrying a walking stick with Islamic crescents on his ears and a sabre in his right hand with the words, “slay the Kafirs wherever you find them ALLAHU AKBAR.”
Cartoons seemed less in evidence at the actual event.
Jon Ritzheimer ex-marine who organized the rally
Angry protesters on both sides lined a street in the city separated by the police. The Guardian stated,
“more than 200 protesters, some armed, berated Islam and the prophet Muhammad outside an Arizona mosque on Friday in a provocative protest that was denounced by counterprotesters shouting “Go home Nazis”, weeks after an anti-Muslim event in Texas came under attack by two gunmen”
The Mail Online reported,
“an ugly scene unfolded Friday night as armed anti-Islam protestors defiled the Koran and waved around depictions of the Prophet Muhammad in Phoenix.
In an event that led to angry clashes between protesters and counter-protesters holding a Love Rally across the street, these individuals stood their ground despite threats from Islamic extremists.”
Anti-Islam protesters were keen to highlight that Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi the 2 gunmen who were shot dead after opening fire outside a conference on cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a suburb of Dallas in early May had attended the Phoenix mosque. There were concerns that Islamists might attack demonstrators after an alert from Rita Katz, Director of SITE Intelligence Group that ISIS fighter Junaid Hussain, linked to the Garland shooting was urging an attack on Jon Ritzheimer at the Draw Muhammad contest and had listed his address. Anti-Islam protesters also had a dig at Leftist protesters.
Social Media Comments on Twitter
Kristinn Taylor highlighted media reporting the event tweeting,
At least they finally mentioned why the protest: That the Garland TX terrorists worshiped at (Phoenix mosque)
Dan Gainor tweeted.
Left has spent decades mocking Christians, invading churches, undercutting religious freedom. Now upset about Mohammed cartoons?
Christian Picciolini tweeted his concerns,
Tyler Offerman added,
John Wright stated,
Can you imagine if a group of 100 Muslims marched to the front of a Baptist church armed with guns?
C-Pakistan- Wake-UP said,
I salute the bravery of those Muslims who offerd prayers in
#PhoenixMosque while armed anti Muslim bigots were chanting hate slogans outside
(Image via Matthew Keys)
Evan Pogue who lives in Phoenix Arizona stated on his Facebook page, “they are being told to bring guns because they expect confrontations from others. This is white trash at its finest. There is nothing wrong with the Islamic religion.” He also posted the following photo.
(Image via Evan Pogue)
There were allegations a Qur’an was torn up at the event and the following images posted to Twitter.
Phoenix CNN reporting on the rally gave the following comments from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the White House
“The Muslim community in America is here to stay and we are also well aware of the right to speak our mind and worship how we please,” Dr. Yasir Shareef, a board member of the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said at a press conference.
The White House says there’s no justification for violence at the rally.
“Even expressions that are offensive, that are distasteful, and intended to sow divisions in an otherwise tight-knit, diverse community in Phoenix cannot be used as a justification to carry out an act of violence,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
Shahrukh Wani tweeted the following photo with the message,
The following link from Mashable (below) shows further images from the rally. Despite tensions, the protest did not turn violent.
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.