As a follow-up to the Islamophobic cartoon contest to draw images of the Prophet Muhammed in Texas, right wing extremists have engaged in another anti-Islam stunt. The group, led by former Iraq war veterans protested in front of the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
Due to lax gun control laws in Arizona and the ability carry weapons openly, the former Marines were permitted to protest with powerful assault rifles. Although police separated the few hundred protesters from the Islamic Center, the image of hundreds of soldiers holding powerful weapons aimed at the center was extremely terrifying. In addition, the members wore shirts that read “F**K Islam”, screamed at the top of their lungs and let out a tirade of ethnic and religious slurs.
As an open society, many commented that the protesters have the right to be anti-Islam. However, their actions are clearly bigoted and serve to damage communal relations. The leader of the community Usama Shami stated that “Everybody has a right to be a bigot” but he did not want his community members to validate the protesters and engage with them. Instead, he preferred that they ignore the protesters.
Fortunately, their was a counter protest, advocating tolerance and acceptance of the Muslim community. In addition, the police and government firmly came out in support of protecting the rights of Muslims to associate and practice their religion in peace.