Crowds gather for anti-Islam demonstration outside Phoenix mosque

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More than 200 protesters, some armed, berated Islam and its Prophet Mohammed outdoors an Arizona mosque on Friday in a provocative protest that was denounced by counterprotesters shouting “Go house, Nazis,” weeks after an anti-Muslim occasion in Texas got here underneath assault by two gunmen.

 The anti-Muslim occasion outdoors the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix was organized by an Iraq warfare veteran who posted photographs of himself on-line sporting a T-shirt with a crude slogan denigrating Islam and waving the U.S. flag.As the occasion acquired underneath means, demonstrators on each side screamed obscenities at one another as police in riot gear swiftly separated the 2 teams, every with about 250 individuals, utilizing police tape and barricades.

“This is in response to the current assault in Texas,” organizer Jon Ritzheimer wrote on his Facebook web page saying the occasion at a mosque focused partially as a result of the 2 Texas gunmen had worshipped there.

More than 900 individuals responded on the occasion’s Facebook web page that they might attend, and police expanded their presence within the night in anticipation of rising crowds. Officers with riot helmets and fuel masks shaped a cordon for a number of blocks.Among the anti-Islam protesters, a few of whom referred to as Islam a “faith of murderers,” greater than a dozen males in army clothes carried semi-automatic weapons. Others waved copies of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad drawn on the Texas occasion.

By late Friday night time, nearly all of the protesters and police had left the world with no stories of violent flare-ups or arrests.

Depictions of Mohammad, which many Muslims view as blasphemous, have been a flashpoint for violence in Europe and the United States in current months the place these displaying or creating such photographs have been focused by militants.

Anti-Muslim teams have been lively within the United States, shopping for advertisements and staging demonstrations characterizing Islam as violent, typically citing the murderous brutality of Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

‘LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR’

The Phoenix mosque focused on Friday has condemned such violence and held a collection of sermons at Friday prayers final yr by an imam who criticized militant Islamist teams resembling Islamic State, al Qaeda and Nigeria’s Boko Haram.

The president of the middle had urged worshippers to not interact with the demonstrators.

“We ought to remind ourselves that we don’t match wrongness with wrongness, however with grace and mercy and goodness,” Usama Shami informed worshippers throughout Friday prayers.

While some counter-protesters outdoors the mosque responded to the anti-Islam protest with obscenities, others adopted his recommendation and chanted “Love your neighbor.”

Todd Green, a faith professor at Luther College in Iowa who research Islamophobia, stated that the brutal acts dedicated by Islamic State and different militant teams have coloured many Americans’ impressions of Muslims.

“Almost two-thirds of Americans do not know a Muslim,” Green stated. “What they know is ISIS, al Qaeda, and Charlie Hebdo,” referencing the January assault on the Paris workplace of the satirical journal Charlie Hebdo that left 12 individuals lifeless over anger on the journal’s cartoons that includes the Prophet.

In an identical incident, a pair of gunmen on May three opened hearth close to Dallas outdoors an exhibit of cartoons that includes the Prophet Mohammad and have been shot lifeless by police.

Leaders of the Phoenix Muslim group confirmed each gunmen had attended the mosque focused in Friday’s demonstration.

U.S. officers are investigating claims that the Texas gunmen had ties to the Islamic State, however stated that they had not established a agency connection.

‘EPIDEMIC OF ANTI-ISLAMIC SENTIMENT’

The Department of Homeland Security spoke with state and native regulation enforcement and monitored the state of affairs in Phoenix, White House spokesman Josh Earnest stated.

Ritzheimer, the primary organizer of the demonstration, stated the purpose was “to show the true colours of Islam.”

“True Islam is terrorism. Yes, those which are out committing these atrocities and stuff, they’re following the guide because it’s written,” Ritzheimer advised CNN.

Ritzheimer was an employees sergeant within the Marine Reserve and was deployed to Iraq twice, in 2005 and 2008, the Marine Corps stated.

Anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller, who organized the Texas occasion, stated she was not concerned within the Phoenix demonstration.

The mosque is a former church close to the town’s worldwide airport that may maintain some 600 worshippers. The Phoenix space is residence to tens of hundreds of Muslims.

Friday’s occasion is a part of “an epidemic of anti-Islamic sentiment” that goes past protesting towards extremism, stated Imraan Siddiqi of the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“Don’t mistake that, they are not saying they need to rid America of radical Islam, they’re saying they need to rid America of Islam,” Siddiqi stated.

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