UPDATE: The event’s 5 pm rallying point has been changed from Denny’s to Washington Park on N. 23rd St.
On May 29, bikers in Phoenix, Arizona, are holding a “Draw Muhammad” contest outside the mosque at the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, which is where the two gunmen who opened fire in Garland, Texas, allegedly attended.
Nadir Soofi and Elton Simpson drove from Phoenix to Garland and opened fire outside of the Curtis Culwell Center on May 3, while a Muhammad cartoon contest was being held. The two men were quickly killed by police working security at the event.
In the weeks since that event, numerous media pundits have criticized Pamela Geller for organizing the Muhammad cartoon contest to begin with. At what she described as her freedom of speech and expression, pundits recoiled and said she was asking for it by allegedly antagonizing Muslims.
For example, following the attack, The New York Times said Geller’s contest “was not really about free speech. It was an exercise in bigotry and hatred posing as a blow for freedom.” The paper tried to explain that those who see it otherwise are confusing “hate speech” with free speech.
Enter former Marine Jon Ritzheimer, who is organizing Friday’s “Draw Muhammad” contest in Phoenix.
According to Vocativ, Ritzheimer says his contest is an exercise in free speech and is being held, in part, to respond to the “liberals” who criticized those gathered in Texas with Geller instead of criticizing the two Islamic men who walked up to a cartoon contest and opened fire.
He put it this way:
This is not about race or any other side agenda that the Liberals are making it out to be. This is purely 100% a Freedom of Speech Rally. Stand Tall and show that we can PEACEFULLY protest our rights that are under attack. That is the sole cause for this Rally and Islam wants to silence us.
Ritzheimer is also asking all attendees to exercise their Second Amendment rights and bring firearms in case the expression of a First Amendment right “comes under the much anticipated attack.”
The group is holding a pre-contest rally at Washington Park on N. 23rd St. at 5 pm.. Then plans to go to the Islamic Community Center’s mosque at 6:15 pm and hold the contest right outside. The current president of the center is Usama Shami. He responded to Ritzheimer’s announcement by saying, “Everyone has a right to be a bigot. Everyone has a right to be racist.”
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