Muslims urged to ignore US anti-Islamic cartoon event (Photo : Anadolu Agency)
Muslims urged to ignore US anti-Islamic cartoon event (Photo : Anadolu Agency)

Texas, 11 Shaban 1436/29 May 2015 (MINA) – A prominent American Muslim advocacy group is urging Phoenix-area Muslims to ignore a provocative anti-Muslim event planned for Friday.

Organized on Facebook, a group of anti-Muslim activists said they would hold a rally and cartoon contest depicting Prophet Muhammad in front of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix.

The planned event comes just three weeks after two gunmen attacked a similar contest in Texas.

Imraan Siddiqi, who directs the Arizona chapter of the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on the local Muslim community to not engage with the participants of the event.

He told Anadolu Agency that the aim of event organizers is to provoke confrontation with Muslims. Middle East Monitor (MEMO) reports as quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA).

“Therefore, we are trying to tell community members to ignore them and stay clear of the area,” he said. “These people want attention. Don’t give them that attention.”

Dubbed “Freedom of Speech Rally Round II”, the event is described in an error-laden post on Facebook as a “response to the recent attack in Texas where 2 armed terrorist [sic], with ties to ISIS (Daesh), attempted Jihad.”

On May 3, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, opened fire outside an anti-Muslim cartoon event in the Dallas suburb of Garland, injuring one security guard before being shot dead by police.

Both attackers shared a home in Phoenix, according to Arizona court documents.

Siddiqi said CAIR representatives met with federal and local enforcement authorities to discuss protecting Muslims from the anti-Islam group that declared on Facebook that it would attend the event with weapons and bring Islamophobic cartoons to harass worshipers.

He said authorities told CAIR there would be a heavy police presence from the Phoenix police department and the FBI would also be engaged.

As of Thursday afternoon, 262 people had signed up to attend the event.

The Facebook page dedicated to the event says, “People are also encouraged to utilize there [sic] second amendment right at this event just incase [sic] our first amendment comes under the much anticipated attack.”

Siddiqi said the organizers are interpreting Second Amendment as a right to take up arms.

“This is basically the intersection of Islamophobia and gun culture, the violent rhetoric coming together with anti-Muslim sentiments in a very dangerous situation,” he said.

The Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, where the event will be held, gained national attention after media reports that one of the gunmen who attacked the cartoon event in Texas frequented the center.

“This mosque has now become a sort of a focus of anti-Muslim activists who say this is a terror mosque or something along those lines,” Siddiqi said.

He said Muslims in the U.S. are increasingly concerned that anti-Muslim sentiments are spreading among the greater society.

The mainstream media’s ignorance of this growing sentiment is turning Islamophobia to “the only acceptable form of hate”, he said.

“We’re seeing this type of groups not being held in check or being shunned by the society and being marginalized. They are allowed to stir their hatred, which is sort of growing their influence,” he added.

Usama Shami, president of the center, said he has been notified by police and the FBI about the event, according to NBC-affiliate 12 News.

“Everybody has a right to be a bigot,” he said. “Everybody has a right to be a racist. Everybody has a right to be an idiot,” he said. (T/P002/R03)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)