An anti-Islam, pro-freedom of speech rally scheduled for Saturday outside the Islamic Center of Tucson has been canceled. Dean Remington, a U.S. military veteran and organizer of the event, announced the news on Facebook on Thursday night.
“The reasoning behind an immediate cancellation has many fronts, as well as benefits to all parties,” Remington wrote. “In recent days, I have met with some key leadership at Tucson Police and at Islamic Center Tucson . . . I was welcomed positively and have delivered a message that, as I said, is a turning point for things to come, I believe. Another meeting is scheduled for tomorrow and great dialogue is expected.” (Remington did not responded to multiple requests for comment.)
Remington organized the “Let Freedom Ring Freedom of Speech Rally” shortly after a May 29 protest outside the Phoenix Islamic Cultural Center. That rally, which drew hundreds of protesters and counter-protesters, was a reaction to the two men who opened fire on a Muhammed cartoon drawing contest in Garland, Texas, earlier this spring.
In the original invitation to the Tucson rally, Remington invited “true patriots” to come “voice a concern that Islam is not a religion of peace and the mosques in America are indoctrination centers for Jihad,” and to protest “activities that threaten America and its citizens our families and economy.”
When news of the “Let Freedom Ring” event made its way around social media, Phoenix resident Sumayyah Dawud organized a counter-protest and encouraged people to “stand up to this hatred, bigotry, Islamophobia, and xenophobia.”
It’s unclear whether Dawud’s counter-protest will be cancelled or turned into a rally to celebrate tolerance, but she tells New Times that she’s “glad Dean has canceled” and that she “[hopes] this relieves some stress on the Tucson Muslim community.” She’s also encouraged to learn that he “is attempting to instead hold healthy dialogue with Muslim community leaders,” adding that this “is something we should encourage.”
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Remington’s decision to cancel the event came hours after four marines were fatally shot at a military base in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The FBI identified the gunman — who also died in the shootout — as Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, but noted at a press conference late Thursday night that while Abdulazeez was Muslim, the agency currently does not have “anything that directly ties” him to an Islamic terrorist organization. The incident is still under federal investigation.
This statement from the FBI, however, did not stop Remington from writing the following: “Folks today we lost AMERICAN heroes on AMERICAN soil at the hands of a ISLAMIC jihadist terrorist in Tennessee. Our government said just last week that there was no way that they can quell every terror plot against us.
"Obviously that's a true statement as this event unfolded with no intervention until the terrorist took lives and was eventually killed. As our president goes to great lengths to please IRAN, and this administration make concessions and pacify the threats of radical Islam, we stand a troubled and unsafe nation living in fear of our safety and security.”