A man from the Phoenix area reportedly plans to hold a rally and “draw Muhammad” cartoon contest on Friday outside the mosque that the two Garland, Texas gunmen and alleged Islamic State sympathizers attended.
Television station KPNX reported that Jon Ritzheimer planned to hold the event in response to the cartoon contest that was hosted by anti-Muslim activist Pam Geller on May 3 in Garland, Texas. That competition was interrupted by two armed men who were allegedly Islamic State sympathizers and who opened fire outside before being killed by security officers.
The mosque where the new contest is planned, the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, is the same one the gunman attended before the attack, according to CNN.
Ritzheimer held an anti-Islam protest two weeks ago before deciding to host this event, according to KPNX.
Ritzheimer defended his event and T-shirts that would be worn by some in attendance which said “F— Islam,” the station reported.
“I’m a Marine and I am far from politically correct,” Ritzheimer said. “I’m outspoken and I’ve just had it.”
Ritzheimer, who, according to KPNX, is an atheist, said he hopes to push “out the truth about Islam.”
“It’s not that some people are out perverting this religion, it’s these guys are following their book as it’s written,” he said.
Ritzheimer told the station that he doesn’t “condone any threats being made to the mosque” during his “Freedom of Speech Rally Round II.”
In the Facebook description of the “PEACEFUL protest,” attendees were encouraged to use their “second amendment right at this event just incase (sic) our first amendment comes under the much anticipated attack.”
Both Phoenix police and the FBI have been informed of the event, KPNX reported. Phoenix police reportedly refused to comment about what protocols are being implemented.
The president of the mosque where the cartoon contest and rally will be held, Usama Shami, told the station that he respected the protestors’ right to exercise free speech. However, Shami said the members of the mosque were told not to engage with Friday’s protestors.
“Everybody has a right to be a bigot. Everybody has a right to be racist. Everybody has a right to be an idiot,” Shami told the station. “They’re not looking for an intellectual discussion. They’re looking to stir up a controversy and we’re not gonna be a part of it.”