A ‘draw Muhammad’ event outside a Phoenix mosque saw love and hate.
The hashtag supports the hundreds of counterprotesters who overwhelmed yesterday’s rally, which was organized by an ex-Marine and promoted by biker communities and other right-wing members. The protesters surrounded a local mosque, some bearing assault weapons. The counterprotesters bore signs reading “Love thy neighbor.”
The hashtag highlights the racism and bigotry of the protests, as well as the hypocrisy of right-wing religious extremists harassing peaceful Muslim communities.
The protest comes after a month of tension between Christian extremists and Islamic extremists over a shooting in Garland, Texas. The shooting occurred at a free speech rally in which participants were encouraged to “Draw Muhammad” in defiance of Islamic extremists, like those behind last year’s Charlie Hebdo attack. Although a member of Islamic extremist group ISIS claimed responsibility for the Garland shooting, the incident prompted a wave of backlash and hostility against peaceful Muslim communities.
Prior to Friday’s rally, Phoenix area mosques received death threats and arson threats. This resulted in similar threats from Islam extremists, prompting the rally’s organizer to claim he was going into hiding.
But many of the online counterprotesters pointed out that ISIS and other extremist groups were not representative of the Muslim-American community as a whole.
They also noted that the “freedom of speech” mantra attached to both this and the previous “Draw Muhammad” rally was deceptive:
There were also plenty of right-wing commenters on the hashtag, along with plenty of talking at cross-purposes:
Although the rally’s founder, Jon Ritzheimer, stated on his Facebook Friday that the rally was not anti-Islamic, he showed up at the rally wearing a T-shirt that read “Fuck Islam.” The anti-Islamic stance of the protests have been widely condemned in the media.
But as one Twitter user noted, perhaps the strongest condemnation of all comes from America herself: