Around 500 people gathered in front of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix on Friday in two opposing groups: one protesting the center and the other supporting it, the Associated Press reported.
Approximately 250 people gathered in front of the center during Friday night prayers, carrying signs decrying Islam as well as Sharia law and terrorism.
Organizers of the anti-Islam protest named the event “Freedom of Speech Rally Round II” and suggested that protesters bring guns to defend themselves in case of a retaliatory attack, according to the event’s Facebook page.
Jon Ritzheimer, a former marine who planned the anti-Islam rally, wrote on his Facebook page that he organized the protest “in response to the recent attack in Texas,” Reuters reported.
Ritzheimer was referring to the May 3 shooting in Garland, Texas, in which two men who had attended the Islamic center shot a security officer outside of a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest.
A roughly equal number of counter-protestors showed up to defend the mosque, chanting “Go home Nazis!” and carrying signs with slogans like, “Stop the hate, provoke peace.”
Despite tension between the two groups, who were separated by a line of police officers, there were no injuries or arrests reported.
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