Update 6/15: What happened when the protestors were invited inside the mosque to join the prayer?
Jason Leger, a Phoenix resident wearing one of the profanity-laced shirts, accepted an 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 think everybody’s points are getting misconstrued, saying things out of emotion, saying things they don’t believe.”
Paul Griffin, who had earlier said he didn’t care if his t-shirt was offensive, assured a small crowd of Muslims at the end of the rally that he wouldn’t wear it again.
“I promise, the next time you see me, I won’t be wearing this shirt,” he told one man while shaking his hand and smiling. “I won’t wear it again.”
At 6:15pm MST tonight, a group of bikers are hosting a “peaceful” armed protest outside the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix. The protest, dubbed “Freedom of Speech Rally Round II,” is a reference to Islamophobe Pamela Geller’s “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest in Garland, Texas on May 3rd. The two gunman that attacked the contest, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, had attended the Phoenix mosque. Close to a thousand people have RSVP’ed on the Facebook event.
Former marine Jon Ritzheimer is the organizer of the rally and sees himself as the champion of American freedoms. He has encouraged attendees to bring weapons and American flags. Ritzheimer’s Facebook photos show wearing a “F**k Islam” t-shirt while waving an American flag. Anderson Cooper confronts him an interview, asking “aren’t you promoting violence?”
Protesters plan to meet in a nearby Denny’s parking lot for another “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest prior to the rally. In response, the Denny’s corporate office plans to close that location tonight from 4-7pm MST.
— Imraan Siddiqi (@imraansiddiqi) May 28, 2015
How are people responding to this anti-Muslim rally?
Zainab Chaudry wrote #NotMyAmerica – An Open Letter to Jon Ritzheimer and Protesting Bikers in Arizona. Take On Hate is hosting a Twitter party tonight at 7pm EST using #NotMyAmerica.