For the second time this year, a big anti-Islam rally is scheduled to take place outside the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix.
Officially part of the “Global Rally for Humanity,” Saturday’s demonstration will be one of many purportedly taking place around the world, intended to draw attention to the so-called “evils of Islam."
The Phoenix event is organized by now-notorious Valley resident Jon Ritzheimer, a former U.S Marine who stumbled into the media spotlight earlier this summer after leading the “Rally for Free Speech.” The event, which occurred in the aftermath of the May shooting outside a Muhammad cartoon-drawing contest in Garland, Texas, was intended to be a rallying point for “patriots” who felt the need to “protect [their] Constitutional rights to freedom of speech,” but by all accounts was simply a demonstration against Islam.
Now, four months later, he’s again calling on all “Patriots, Veterans, Bikers, Militia, Reservists, active-duty Infidels and all AMERICANS who still LOVE LIBERTY and cling to the CONSTITUTION!!” to join him at the ICC in North Phoenix to “support of Ole Glory, our American Heritage, our blood-bought Freedoms, and our American way of life.”
Attendees are encouraged to bring flags and firearms, though Ritzheimer insists that he wants the protest to remain peaceful.
“Once again a group of ‘PATRIOTS’ is going to march on and intimidate worshipers at the ICC Phoenix. Once again they are going to bring guns to a place where women and kids pray to god . . . Fuck these clowns and the message they spread,” the group says on Facebook.
Other counter-protesters are calling on their “fellow humans [to] rise up against hatred wherever we find it [because] our world needs to be safe for all people of every religion, color, and economic background.”
Ritzheimer’s Global Rally has been strongly condemned by the Council on American and Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country. CAIR leaders have called on elected officials to publicly speak out against the demonstrations and have encouraged the greater American Muslim community to be extra vigilant this weekend:
“Media reports and monitoring of anti-Muslim hate sites indicate that a small group of anti-Muslim extremists with a history of violent rhetoric are attempting to organize hate rallies outside a number of mosques across the nation on October 10. Organizers of the hate rallies have indicated that participants in states with open carry laws may be armed and that provocations such as the use of live pigs and Quran desecrations may occur.
“The anti-Islam rallies come at a time of increased hate-motivated crimes and bias incidents nationwide targeting persons and property associated, or perceived to be associated, with Islam and the American Muslim community," the group writes in a statement.
Sergeant Trent Crump tells New Times in an e-mail that the Phoenix Police Department is “aware of the event planning at this point, but will not comment about any of our security plans.”
Based on the PPD response last time, in which dozens of officers in riot gear patrolled the scene, breaking up fights and successfully preventing any violence, attendees can expect a large law enforcement presence.
In recent days, the Global Rally for Humanity Facebook page has been inundated by commenters condemning the rally and claiming it's canceled. But in a video posted to Facebook last night, Ritzheimer and two of his friends/fellow anti-Islam enthusiasts — Saad Kooza Salman and Blaine Cooper — assure their followers that Saturday's rally is still on.
Saturday October 10, 2015.
Islamic Community Center of Phoenix: 7516 N. Black Canyon Hwy., Phoenix
Photos from the first rally:
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