Less than a month after a Draw Muhammad contest in Texas sparked violence, an anti-Islam rally in Phoenix will feature a similar contest on Friday.
Organised on Facebook, a group said they would hold a “Freedom of Speech Rally” and contest for drawing cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in front of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix.
The planned event comes just three weeks after a similar event in Texas sparked gunfire which left two gunmen, both from Phoenix, dead in parking a lot outside the building where the contest was held.
The Muslim community in US has called on Phoenix-area Muslims to ignore the provocative anti-Muslim event scheduled for Friday.
Imraan Siddiqi, who directs the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told the Anadolu Agency that the aim of event organisers is to provoke confrontation with Muslims.
"Therefore, we are trying to tell community members to ignore them and stay clear of the area," he said. "These people want attention. Don't give them that attention."
In a message on the Facebook page, the event is described as a “response to the recent attack in Texas where 2 armed terrorist [sic], with ties to ISIS, attempted Jihad.”
On May 3, two gunmen Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, were shot dead in Texas after they opened fire outside a contest for depicting the Prophet Muhammad that was organised by a far-right group known for sponsoring Islamophobic ads on public transport systems.
A convert to Islam, had been Simpson under the FBI’s radar for quite some time for his ties to a former US Navy sailor who had been arrested in Phoenix and later was convicted of terrorism-related charges. As for Nadir Soofi, he had not been prosecuted in a federal court, according to a search of court records.
The two gunmen shared a home in Phoenix, according to Arizona court documents.
The New York based American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) group recently sparked controversy when it placed Islamophobic advertisements on transit systems in a number of major US cities including New York, Washington and Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, transport officials in Washington, D.C. have blocked the same group’s plan to have the cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad which won the first prize at the event in Texas displayed on the Washington, D.C. subway, according to a BBC report.
Washington transport authorities have suspended all “issue-oriented” - including political, religious and advocacy - adverts on the subway.
Pamela Geller, the president of AFDI, described the decision to ban the advert as an attack on freedom of speech.
"These cowards may claim that they are making people safer, but I submit to you the opposite. They are making it far more dangerous for Americans everywhere," she said in a post on her website.