About 200 protesters met at a Phoenix mosque Saturday as part of a nation-wide rally against Islam.
And Democratic lawmakers were pretty steamed at not only the rallies, but the fact that some of the demonstrators were openly carrying weapons — legally.
The Phoenix demonstration, organized by John Ritzheimer, was planned to coincide with similar protests in more than 20 other cities in an effort called The Global Rally for Humanity, according to KTAR News.
“I do not hate Muslim people, it is the ideology behind Islam,” Ritzheimer said. “Everyday they attack humanity, it is proven daily that they do not co-exist with everyone else.”
Phoenix police were on hand in riot gear and barricades were set up to keep the protesters separated from those who felt differently about their message. There were several supporters of Islam at the protest and that led to some minor issues according to Phoenix Police. There was one arrest on an unrelated warrant during a minor scuffle
The open carry of firearms was also evident at the Phoenix rally, and some demonstrators could be seen in body armor.
@Shadoself @skookerG @SeattleLib65 Meanwhile in Phoenix AZ, more angry illiterates argue with10 kids frm Anonymous https://t.co/oL4EO58bCP
— shout (@teh_goat) October 11, 2015
But a heavy police presence kept things from going too far.
Heavy police presence this morning at the Islamic center of Phoenix where an anti-Islam rally is planned @abc15 pic.twitter.com/EOADtnDIV7 — ashley thompson (@AshleytABC15) October 10, 2015
Nonetheless, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who is also a Muslim, registered his complaint to the weapons.
Today, I, and 37 of my colleagues in Congress, sent a letter urging @LorettaLynch to investigate armed protests outside of places of worship
— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) October 9, 2015
His letter reads:
The presence of assault weapons coupled with deep seeded bigotry and hate speech creates a clear and present danger to worshipers and threatens lawless action. Beyond the safety concerns the conduct of these demonstrators impedes the First Amendment rights of worshipers.
These demonstrators argue that they are exercising their First Amendment rights. Freedom of Speech and the Freedom to Assemble are bedrock principles that distinguish free societies from tyrannical regimes. These freedoms, however, are not absolute. The constitution does not protect behavior that prevents the free exercise of religion or causes the incitement of violence or prejudice against protected groups.
The activity of these armed anti-Muslim demonstrators comes at a time when anti-Muslim hate crimes are on the rise and people are seeking to capitalize anti-Muslim fearmongering.
As gun violence and bigotry sweep across the country, we must do everything we can to prevent further tragedy and discrimination.
Others took issue with Ellison’s appraisal, and tweeted:
@keithellison @LorettaLynch You mean the “gun violence” that NEVER happened at any #OpenCarry rally? Your desperate agenda is showing. — Kristine ❀♡❀♡ (@KristineAz) October 11, 2015
@andycutright @keithellison @LorettaLynch If this were a group of armed muslims harassing jewish people at a temple, tune would change
— BleedRedandGold16 (@Niners4Ever16) October 9, 2015
ABC15 reporter Ashley Thompson tweeted:
Rally organizer Jon Ritzheimer says he does not hate anyone but says Islam is a dangerous religion pic.twitter.com/VM2cOAmMaf
— ashley thompson (@AshleytABC15) October 10, 2015
And KTVK-3TV was there and tweeted:
Rally outside Phoenix mosque draws anti-Islam protesters – http://t.co/1Lg1LAYVOw pic.twitter.com/e6joTeebt0 — AZ Family (@azfamily) October 11, 2015
Another anti-Islam rally held outside mosque by former marine in Phoenix today http://t.co/OfRjDjx8Wx #abc15 pic.twitter.com/12bjK8C9jq
— ABC15 Arizona (@abc15) October 11, 2015
The rally wasn’t entirely made up of far-right protesters. Local gay feminist Laine Lawless was there to protest Islam’s treatment of women and gays.
“We want to protest the culture take over of Islam in the United States,” Lawless told KTAR. “We want to protest the way they live and the culture of terrorism and jihad and how they seem to think it’s okay to go around murdering people, raping women, molesting children, having sex with poor innocent animals and torturing people. They stone women to death because of adultery and things like that. It’s just not right. It’s not compatible with American values and culture.”
ABC15’s Thompson tweeted:
Gay protestor says Islam does not welcome gays or feminists pic.twitter.com/gsYHhM6jsI — ashley thompson (@AshleytABC15) October 10, 2015
All in all, short of a lot of shouting at one another, it was a pretty peaceful event as these videos, via KTAR, indicate:
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