Crowds of protesters clashed at a Mosque in Phoenix Friday evening, as groups of anti-Islam demonstrators and groups of counter-protesters calling for tolerance shouted at each other. Meanwhile, the hashtag #NotMyAmerica, in response to the anti-Islam protests, is trending on social media.
As the Huffington Post reports, several hundred bikers gathered outside a Phoenix mosque Friday evening, some armed with weapons, holding cartoons of the prophet Mohammed and anti-Islamic signs. Across the street, and separated by a line of police, counter-protesters held signs calling for acceptance and tolerance. At times, protesters stood nose-to-nose, shouting at each other, but the protest did not turn violent. Police made no arrests.
Jon Ritzheimer, who organized the event, claimed on the event’s Facebook page that the anti-Islam protest was in response to a shooting weeks ago at a Mohammed cartoon contest in Texas; the two gunmen involved in the attack on the event had worshiped at the Phoenix mosque, according to Yahoo News.
“This is in response to the recent attack in Texas where 2 armed terrorist, with ties to ISIS, attempted Jihad. Everyone is encouraged to bring American Flags and any message that you would like to send to the known acquaintances of the 2 gunmen. This Islamic Community Center is a known place that the 2 terrorist frequented. People are also encouraged to utilize there [sic] second amendment right at this event just incase [sic] our first amendment comes under the much anticipated attack.”
Inside the Mosque, leader Usama Shami told worshipers there for Friday prayers not to be drawn into the protests.
“We should remind ourselves that we do not match wrongness with wrongness, but with grace and mercy and goodness.”
On social media, users are posting messages with the hashtag #NotMyAmerica to call for peace and to remind Muslims that the Phoenix anti-Islam protesters do not speak for all Americans when it comes to Islam.
Eagerly awaiting the day I’ll be able to begin a sentence “As someone from Arizona” and not follow that with “I’m ashamed.” #NotMyAmerica
— DC Pierson (@DCpierson) May 30, 2015
Going to a mosque to protest terrorism makes as much sense as going to the Vatican to protest the Mafia. #NotMyAmerica — JRehling (@JRehling) May 30, 2015
I’m not Muslim but I support the right to practice faith without fear of violence and intimidation. Racism & oppression are #NotMyAmerica
— Alyson Blüberry (@alysonbluberry) May 30, 2015
A California-based civil rights group, Muslim Advocates, has asked the Justice Department to investigate Friday’s protest for possible civil rights violations.
[Image courtesy of Twitter]