Time: 9:13 a.m. CEST
Peaceful, but heated atmosphere marked the rally in front of the Islamic Center in Phoenix were police separated two groups of protesters and activists.
A rally targeting the Islamic faith altered occasional immigration protests in Phoenix. On Friday, relatively peaceful community of 1,5 million populated Phoenix attracted national media attention in the United States with a rally organized by a former Marine.
Jon Ritzheimer, who organized the event on Facebook and his supporters protested across the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, but faced counter protesters with slogans about religious tolerance. Ritzheimer goal was to “expose the true colors of Islam.”
Police was in the middle of the street and keep both groups separated. CNN affiliate KPHO said police chief Joe Yahner worked to arrange the public safety of the event. “There are a lot of things in the works. The intelligence related to the crowd is changing all the time,” Yahner told KPHO.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey appealed for “common sense to prevail in the event.”
On Friday, AZ Central, the online edition of the main newspaper in Arizona reports, Ritzheimer said on Friday, “that he was hoping to inspire more freedom of speech rallies.” He justified his cause “this is about freedom of speech across America.” But, only a part of those expressed willingness to attend to the event on the Facebook page, really responded to appear.
Ritzheimer and his supporters witnessed counter protesters who in turn responded to the calls on social media content with the hashtag #NotMyAmerica and #PhxMosque. Counter protesters expressed solidarity with the Muslim community.
Usama Shami, the president of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, near Interstate 17 and Glendale Avenue advised ignoring people “who try to provoke you,” AZ Central writes. Shami expressed the worries of the Arizona Muslim leaders demonstration could represent another form of the anti-Muslim sentiment in America.
But, the Islamic community said is not intimidated.
“The Muslim community in America is here to stay and we are also well aware of the right to speak out our mind and worship how we please,” CNN reported the statement of Dr. Yasir Shareef, a board member of the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
However, Imraan Siddiqi another member of this organization, said that recently the mosques in Phoenix received “threatening letters.”
According to the Facebook page of the event, the protest was “in response to the recent attack in Texas.” The Islamic Community Center of Phoenix is the mosque, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi visited, reports CNN. Both drove to Dallas from Arizona and shoot during the Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest. But, police killed them both.
On Friday, the White House also said they are monitoring the situation in Phoenix. Asked by the ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl about situation in Phoenix, the White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, “The Department of Homeland Security has been in touch with state and local law enforcement authorities to monitor the situation in Phoenix.”
“Even expressions that are offensive, that are distasteful, and intended to sow divisions in an otherwise tight-knit, diverse community like Phoenix, cannot be used as a justification to carry out an act of violence, and certainly can’t be used as a justification to carry out an act of terrorism,” Earnest said on Friday.
In parallel events away of Phoenix, an activist and conservative blogger Pamela Geller of New York engaged herself with showing cartoons of Mohammed in the transit system, but the Washington Metro voted to stop “showing issue-oriented ads throughout its system.” Geller organized the contest in Dallas for Mohhamed cartoons, where Simpson and Soofi died by the police.
Islam mostly forbids painting or showing of the face of the prophet Mohhamed.