PHOENIX —About 250 mostly armed anti-Muslim demonstrators — many wearing T-shirts bearing a profanity-laced message denouncing Islam — faced-off against a crowd of roughly the same size defending the faith in front of a Phoenix mosque Friday night.

Demonstrators yelled and taunted one another across a line of police separating the two sides but violence did not break out.

Jon Ritzheimer, the organizer of the protest, called it a patriotic sign of resistance against what he deemed the tyranny of Islam in America.

“I would love to see more of these events pop up in other states,” Ritzheimer said. “I want fellow patriots standing right here next to me. This isn’t about me. Everybody’s been thinking it, I’m just saying it.”

Usama Shami, president of the Islamic center, said he was not surprised by the event.

“This is not new. Hatred, bigotry, racism — that’s old. It’s the same thing,” he said. “No different from Nazis or neo-Nazis. They don’t believe society should be multicultural or multiethnic. They think everyone should believe like them, I guess.”

Ritzheimer began demonstrating after two Phoenix residents carrying assault rifles were killed by police outside a Muhammed cartoon-drawing contest in suburban Dallas earlier this month. In the days following the shooting, Ritzheimer began making and selling the T-shirts. Nearly two weeks ago, he organized a protest at the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, where a few dozen others joined him.

Ritzheimer said he’s received threats from terrorists on Twitter, and that he and his family no longer feel safe in their home. He said he asked participants to bring guns in the Facebook invite as a precautionary measure. Some brought two or three firearms, from pistols and revolvers to shotguns and assault rifles. Ritzheimer carried a 9mm Glock 26. Some wore military fatigues.

The event kicked off with Ritzheimer inviting his supporters to draw cartoons of Muhammed and bashing the religion’s prohibition against creating depictions of the Islamic prophet.

Ritzheimer has confused patriotism with something else.  People in this country may worship in any manner they choose,  at least in theory.  He has made some sweeping generalizations and has seriously compromised  many people’s constitutional rights by his actions.

Let’s go to the root of the problem.  Why would anyone want to offend?  Why would anyone want to draw a depiction of Mohammad?  Why stir up that kind of problem?   Why not just let well enough alone.  Being a provocateur just seems so unnecessary and dangerous.

If I were forced to attend a rally on this issue, I would have to side with the Muslims, even though it is not my faith.  They may worship any way they choose.  What they don’t have a right to do is go shoot people they feel offend them.  Most don’t.  Just a tiny fraction of American Muslims are violent–probably about equal to the same number who stalk or attempt to kill abortion providers in the name of Christianity.  Those few who have attempted this are perverting Christianity.

All Americans need to take a deep breath and review the basic rights afforded to all who live in this country, citizens and non-citizens alike.   There is simply no point in people going out of their way to stir up people of other faiths.  The Phoenix protestors are on the same order as those who hunted down Mormons.


15 Thoughts to “Anti-Muslim protests held in Phoenix”

  1. punchak

    … Jason Leger, a Phoenix resident wearing one of the profanity-laced shirts, accepted n invitation to join the evening prayer inside the mosque and said the experience changed him.

    “It was something I’ve never seen before. I took my shoes off. I kneeled. I saw a bunch of peaceful people. We all got along”, Leger said. “They made me feel welcome, you know. I just thing everybody’s points are getting misconstrued, saying things out of emotion, saying things they don’t believe.”

    Paul Griffin was changed. He said: “I promise, the net time you see me, I won’t be wearing this shirt,” he told one man while shaking his hand and smiling.

    Shami, Islamic center president, invited anyone to join him and the 800 members of the mosque for a prayer. He said:

    “A lot of them, they’ve never met a Muslim, or they haven’t had interactions with Muslims. A lot of them are filled with hate and rage. Maybe they went to Web sites that charged them with this hatred. So when you sit down and talk like rational people, without all these slogans, without being bigots, without bringing guns, they will find out that they’re talking to another human.”

    It’s natural to fear the unknown. Therefore it’s important to try to learn.

    1. Thanks for sharing that story, Punchak.

  2. El Guapo

    American Exceptionalism

  3. Cargosquid

    Ritzheimer is being forced into hiding due to the death threats by the followers of this peaceful religion.

    1. Surely you don’t feel sorry for him? Now what do you think he expected to happen?

  4. Ed Myers

    If the Muslims in Phoenix are representative of their faith, then they are extremely peaceful in the face of violent threats. Coming to a protest with guns is a declaration of war…a threat of violence if one’s protest demands are not meet. Only the anti-Muslim protesters did that. It seems the thesis that Islam is the religion of violence and Christianity the religion of peace was proven wrong in this event and as such the protest backfired.

    Ritzheimer doesn’t have much integrity. He declares war on Islam and now wants the rest of us to defend him for his bigoted and peace-disturbing tirade. Why doesn’t he travel to Iraq and fight it out with the “terrorists” and leave the peaceful Muslims and Christians alone. He sure acts like a scared little boy who can only taunt from the safety of his mother’s skirts.

    Speech that is intended to discriminate and intimidate (e.g. burning crosses on an African American’s yard) is not protected by the 1st A. Ritzheimer has crossed the line and the Constitution does not protect his desire to walk up to a mosque shouting fighting words in an attempt to provoke a violent response.

    1. By George, Ed, I think you are on to something! That pretty much sums it up.

      Ritzheimer “mans up”, arms himself, calls out his friends, puts on his big boy pants, even tries to sully the name of the Marines, and gets in the face of the Muslims at their place of worship. Then he runs and hides when the kitchen heats up. [MEOW]

  5. Wolve

    Heh, heh…….Now, Ed, I am sure this Ritzheimer guy wouldn’t want YOU to defend him.

  6. Starry flights

    If not for Muslims, people like Ritzhdimer would have no reason to get out of bed

  7. I just don’t understand why Ritzheimer wants to stir up something. It makes no sense.

    Surely he can understand that depiction of Mohammad is thought to be sacrilegious by Muslims? I don’t understand why anyone would want to mock another person’s religion by holding a Mohammad cartoon contest. That seems to be the epicenter of the problem.

  8. Ed Myers

    I’m an equal opportunity blasphemer. People can say anything they want about any religion.

    However Ritzheimer isn’t engaged in speech. He is trying to intimidate and threaten Muslims. He hopes to prove the meme that Islam is a violent religion by assaulting them and when they respond say: “see, a violent religion!” and probably kill some and claim it was in self defense.

    1. I try not to be deliberately offensive.

  9. Wolve

    Wear orange. It’s the new yellow.

    1. Are we supposed to know what that means?

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