Just weeks after a contest in Texas that encouraged participants to draw caricatures of the prophet Muhammad ended in deadly gunfire, another such event is happening in Phoenix.
Marine veteran Jon Ritzheimer has organised what’s being called a “freedom of speech” rally, which is being held in front of a mosque in Phoenix. Ritzheimer states his purpose quite clearly before saying a word during an interview with AZCentral.com.
As he sits in front of a camera, Ritzheimer wears a t-shirt that reads “F*** Islam.” Still, Ritzheimer, who insists he’s a patriot and an atheist, says, “I don’t condone any threats against the mosque.”
A Facebook post for the event, encourages participants to “utilise their second amendment rights” while at the gathering. It’s billed as both a protest of the shootings that happened at a Muhammad drawing contest in Texas earlier this month and also a means to, as Ritzheimer put it, “push out the truth about Islam.”
Naturally, there are some strong opinions for, and against the issue being voiced on social media. Among them, the hashtag, #NotMyAmerica has generated tens of thousands of takes:
The event has prompted extra police patrols in Phoenix, and members of the targeted mosque had reportedly been asked not to attend prayer services Friday night. For its part, the city’s Human Relations Commission issued this statement:
“When freedom of speech is used to vilify entire groups of people because of who they are or what they believe, the Human Relations Commission must speak. It may be legally permissible to protest the Islamic community in Phoenix, but it is hateful and ill-conceived conduct that hurts our entire community and creates the misimpression that Phoenix is intolerant and unwelcoming.”
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