The anti-Muslim riot expected to erupt in Phoenix, Arizona on Friday night ended in reconciliation after all. Two rioters ended with a deeper understanding of the Islam, and the majority of the Americans showed solidarity with the Muslims across social media. On Friday night until Saturday, the hashtag #NotmyAmerica was trending on Twitter.
Armed anti-Muslim demonstrators
The supposed riot was attended by 250 armed anti-Muslim demonstrators, The Washington Post reported. Some of the rioters wore T-shirts emblazoned with words and graphics insulting to Islam. About the same number of pro-Muslim rioters stood on the other side of the line.
As the night ended, no one dared cross the line. Usama Shami, the president of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, invited for anyone to join the evening Islamic prayer inside the mosque. He believed that a lot of the anti-Muslim rioters have not actually interacted with Muslims.
“A lot of them are filled with hate and rage. Maybe they went to websites that charged them with this hatred. So when you sit down and talk like rational people, without all these slogans, without being bigots, without bringing guns, they will find out that they’re talking to another human,” Shami said.
One of the anti-Muslim protesters, Jason Leger, granted an invitation to attend an evening Muslim prayer inside the mosque. He was among the protesters who wore t-shirts with profanity aimed at the Muslims. Coming out of the mosque, he said the experience changed his perception of the Muslims.
“It was something I’ve never seen before. I took my shoes off. I kneeled. I saw a bunch of peaceful people. We all got along. They made me feel welcome, you know. I just think everybody’s points are getting misconstrued, saying things out of emotion, saying things they don’t believe,” Leger told The Washington Post.
Another anti-Muslim rioter, Paul Griffin, also experienced a change of heart. During protest, he claimed that the profanity written on their shirts were only justifiable. However, after the evening prayer, Griffin promised not to wear the shirt again.
“I promise, the next time you see me, I won’t be wearing this shirt. I won’t wear it again,” Griffin was seen telling one Muslim as they shake hands.
As the protest happens, some people showed their solidarity with the Muslims. They opposed the anti-Muslim rally, saying that bigotry is not something that should happen in America.
— Eric Ward (@BulldogShadow) May 29, 2015
Cannot fathom showing up for shabbat greeted by armed thugs. Solidarity with the Muslim community on a very frightening day. #NotMyAmerica
— Adam Shprintzen (@VegHistory) May 30, 2015
— Muna Saliba, MPA (@MunaSaliba) May 30, 2015
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