Phoenix mosque to be target of Muhammad cartoon contest

May 29, 2015 11:39 AM by CBS News

PHOENIX -- Local police and the FBI say they're aware that a man is planning a rally outside a Phoenix mosque during Friday prayer services that will include a contest of drawings depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

On May 3, two men tried to ambush participants at a similar event in the Dallas suburb of Garland, Tex., shooting a security guard before they were killed by police.
Jon Ritzheimer told CBS Phoenix affiliate KPHO he organized the rally outside the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix because the Texas gunmen had worshiped there.

Describing himself as "just a blatant, blunt, outspoken Marine," Ritzheimer told the station the Texas shooting struck a nerve.

"I appreciate the mosque did come out and they condemned the two gunman," he said. "They've come out and they've condemned ISIS."

According to Ritzheimer, the mosque hasn't done enough since the attack.

"People call them an extremist. To me, it's just a Muslim following their book as it's written," he said.

"These are the measures that we have to take to expose the true colors of this religion," Ritzheimer continued. "Unfortunately, we have to hold the cartoon contest, as silly as it sounds, to be able to show the true colors of Islam."

Ritzheimer told the station he considers Islam an "intolerant religion."

"Here in America, we have the freedom of speech and it's under attack from Islam," he said, adding that he proudly wears a T-shirt that reads "F--- Islam."

"There's going to be plenty of them," Ritzheimer said of the shirts. "I have a whole fresh order coming to the rally."

Ritzheimer insisted the event is not intended to stir up trouble.

"I let them [the mosque] know that we're coming on that day and that I hope everything can remain peaceful," he said.

Usama Shami, president of the Phoenix Islamic Center, declined to be interviewed on camera, but told KPHO he knew about the planned protest. Shami said that as long as the protesters stay off the property, they can rally all they want.

When asked by KPHO, Phoenix police and the FBI would not disclose what type of law enforcement presence there might be at the event.

Phoenix police said in a statement, "We consistently monitor social media and have been in contact with representatives from the mosque and known event organizers. We will have an appropriate presence at the event but specific details will not be provided."
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