US: Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest to be held in Arizona
Members of the FBI Evidence Response Team investigate the crime scene outside of the Curtis Culwell Center after a shooting occurred the day before at a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest. (AFP/Ben Torres)
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A group of anti-Muslim activists in the US state of Arizona is planning to organize a contest for cartoonsdepicting Prophet Muhammad in the city of Phoenix on Friday, local media said.
The event comes just three weeks after two gunmen attacked a similar contest in Texas.
Friday’s event is planned in front of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, where participants will hold the contest after a rally.
Organized on Facebook, the event is described as a “response to the recent attack in Texas where 2 armed terrorist [sic], with ties to ISIS (Daesh), attempted Jihad.”
“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,” organizers said.
They said the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix was chosen because it “is a known place that the 2 terrorist [sic] frequented.”
On May 3, two gunmen, identified as 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.
As of Wednesday night, 146 people had signed up to attend Friday’s rally.
Usama Shami, president of the Islamic 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 added that Muslims in the area have been encouraged to attend prayer services on Friday evening as usual.
Organizers, however, said Friday was chosen because “this is when they (area Muslims) normally host a large prayer.” The rally is scheduled at 6:15 p.m. local time.
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