May 282015

Days after a mosque in Phoenix, Arizona reportedly got threatening letters, an anti-Muslim group of bikers said it will stage a protest outside the Islamic centre on Friday.

The “Freedom of Speech Rally Round II” protest is being held in reference to Pamela Geller’s sacrilegious cartoon contest in Garland, Texas that was attacked by two gunmen earlier in May.

The shooters who attacked the contest were attendees of the Phoenix mosque that has received at least four threatening letters in the past couple of weeks.

Usama Shami, president of the community centre was informed about the protest from Phoenix police and the FBI. He says that bikers’ right to demonstrate will be respected. He added that the mosque will not change its prayer schedule for Friday in light of the protest.

“It will be the same as every Friday evening and we’re going to tell our members what we’ve told them before: not to engage them. They’re not looking for an intellectual conversation. They’re looking to stir up controversy and we’re not going to be a part of it.”

The local clergy is hoping to head them off with a message of inclusivity.

The biker group, organised by Jon Ritzheimer, plans to meet at the parking lot where the Garland shooting took place. It is from here they will head towards the mosque carrying American flags and messages.

More than 200 people had reportedly committed to attending the protest on its Facebook page.

Ritzheimer wrote on the event’s Facebook page that the protest would be peaceful and that he has no agenda other than to exercise freedom of speech. Despite his peaceful proclamations, his Facebook page depicts abusive content against Islam.

The Islamic Community Centers of Phoenix and Tempe, Arizona have received anonymous letters which threaten to kill the Imams of the mosque along with their families if they do not “repent and turn to Christ” from the “countless demons of Islam.”

“Burning of the ground” of American mosques was also mentioned in the letters.

One of the letters read: “I can see entire Muslim communities destroyed from Detroit to California. You should abandon your properties and go back home where ever that is!”

“Our people are watching you and patrolling your mosques,” the letters warned.

Shami, though, has said that beyond passing the threatening letters to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), he will not be taking any special measures beyond the regular vigilance he maintains against possible miscreants.

This article originally appeared in Huffington Post.

The post Imams threatened as biker group plans anti-Muslim protest outside Arizona mosque appeared first on The Express Tribune.

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