Phoenix Mayor Slams ‘Draw Muhammad’ Contest as ‘Purposely Provocative, Divisive Behavior’

AP Photo/Rick Scuteri
AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

During the May 29th airing of CNN’s OutFront with Erin Burnett, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D) described the “Draw Muhammad” contest as “purposely provocative” and a demonstration of “divisive behavior.”

Stanton’s comments came within hours of the contest’s start.

Burnett opened her interview of Stanton by asking what he meant by “purposely provocative”? The mayor responded:

The desire of this organization to come right in front of this mosque in the heart of the city of Phoenix–the Islamic Community Center–to sell and wear t-shirts that say “F Islam”–it doesn’t take much to come to the conclusion that they are being purposely provocative.

Stanton did admit that the “Draw Muhammad” contest participants had “First Amendment rights to protest,” and he made clear Phoenix police would be there “to make sure that the protest [was carried out] as peaceably as possible in the heart of [Phoenix].”

Burnett then re-iterated her question, re-emphasizing the”F-Islam” shirts seen at the event and pointing to the fact that contest organizer Jon Ritzheimer had asked protest attendees to come armed. She then looked at Mayor Stanton and said, “That’s got to make you pretty angry.”

I’m not happy this is happening in my city. Look, the honest truth is, I think this is a really bad idea. Just because you have a constitutional right to do something doesn’t make it a good idea. And I believe the intent here is to be purposely provocative.

Look, this is happening at a time of evening prayers at this mosque. So at the same time that we’re going to be required to protect the First Amendment rights of these protesters, equally we have to ensure the members of this mosque have an opportunity to come to evening prayers in an environment free of intimidation or violence.

Stanton reiterated that was not happy that the protest was occurring, then said again, “I do believe the people involved are trying to be purposely provocative.”

As the interview was ending, Mayor Stanton said the contest represented “divisive behavior.”

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


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