200 protesters gathered outside the Islamic Community Center near Interstate 17 and Northern Avenue Saturday to protest the Islam religion as part of a nationwide rally.
The rally coincides with protests at mosques in over 20 cities across the country for what is called The Global Rally for Humanity.
It’s also a rally that local organizer John Ritzheimer said is sometimes misunderstood.
“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.
KTAR’s Bob McClay was at the protest and had two videos of the sides interacting.
Laine Lawless gathered to demonstrate because she feels there is not enough gay feminists protesting the Islam religion. She said this was the first time she has been here, although her former group, Border Guardians did protest illegal immigration and burned the Mexican flag in Tucson.
“We want to protest the culture take over of Islam in the United States,” Lawless said. “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 woman to death because of adultery and things like that. It’s just not right. It’s not compatible with American values and culture.”
However, some feel differently and see the protest as a hate-fueled event.
“The community is confounded with respect as to why this guy insists to show his bigotry — him and his group,” Usama Shami, president of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, said.
About 500 people — 250 on each side — attended the May protest. Though tempers flared, no injuries or arrests were reported.
The May protest came about month after a shootout outside a Prophet Muhammad cartoon-drawing contest in a Dallas suburb. Two Phoenix men showed up at the event with assault rifles and were killed by police. The men formerly worshiped at the Phoenix mosque.
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