Phoenix Mayor Slams Muhammad Cartoon Contest As ‘Purposefully Provocative’

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Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton said Friday on CNN that he wished a “draw Muhammad” cartoon contest wasn’t being held in Phoenix but that, as mayor, he had to protect the interests of all involved.

The cartoon contest, being held on Friday outside a Phoenix mosque, has been promoted on Facebook as a response to a similar event in Garland, Texas that was disrupted when two gunmen attempted to attack the event and were killed by a security officer.

The Phoenix event’s Facebook page encouraged attendees to exercise their “second amendment right at this event just incase (sic) our first amendment comes under the much anticipated attack.”

During his appearance on CNN, Stanton was asked by host Carol Costello about the reference to the Second Amendment.

“Of course I wish that any reference to Second Amendment rights had not been posted,” Stanton said. “We’re gonna protect everyone’s First Amendment rights. We’re gonna make sure we balance those interests. But again, just because they have a First Amendment right to do it, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.”

Stanton said the city was interested in protecting the rights of both those attending the protest and those attending the mosque to pray.

“I believe that this is being done in a purposefully provocative way so I don’t believe that it’s a good idea, but people do have a First Amendment right to protest and we will make sure that their First Amendment rights are protected,” Stanton said.

“It is equally as important that the members of this Islamic Community Center in the heart of Phoenix, that they have an opportunity to go to evening prayers as peacefully, in a setting that doesn’t have intimidation,” Stanton continued. “So we’re gonna protect their First Amendment rights of freedom of religion equally. Tonight is gonna be about a balancing of those interests.”

Ultimately, Stanton lamented that the event was being held.

“But, as I’ve said, I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Stanton said. “I wish it wasn’t happening at this location in my city.”

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