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Let Me Finish': Things Get Tense As CNN's Anderson Cooper Grills 'Draw Muhammad' Contest Organizer


"So are you saying Marines and others who are currently serving in Afghanistan and elsewhere are supporting terrorists?"

CNN's Anderson Cooper repeatedly pressed on Thursday the organizer of another controversial "draw Muhammad" cartoon contest set to take place in Phoenix Friday.

"You yourself have said this is a provocation ... so what are you really trying to achieve?" Cooper asked former U.S. Marine Jon Ritzheimer, who is seen on Facebook wearing a "F*** Islam" t-shirt.

"Well, I'm really trying to achieve exposing Islam and the truth about what's written in the Koran. ... Some would even probably argue that the signers that signed the Declaration of Independence was a bad idea, back in their day," Ritzheimer replied.

"So you're comparing yourself to the signers of the Declaration of Independence?" Cooper asked.

"Uh, yeah. I just don't want to live in fear," Ritzheimer replied. "I shouldn't have to live in fear."

The CNN host continued to press.

"What are you afraid of?" he asked.

"Well, we've received a bunch of credible threats. I've already had the police come to my house. My family is currently packing up and they are going into hiding," the former Marine answered.

Cooper then asked Ritzheimer if he believes he helped support terrorism by serving as a Marine in support of an Islamic government overseas.

"You were helping bolster an Islamic government in Iraq. So why were you doing that?" Cooper asked.

"I was over there, I was over there following orders," Ritzheimer replied.

Anderson didn't relent, asking, "So do you feel you were supporting terrorists while you were supporting an Islamic government in Iraq? Do you say the Marines who are fighting in Afghanistan are supporting terrorism as well?"

"No, no I do not. Let me finish. I was uneducated when I went over there. I was a junior Marine following orders ... it wasn't until I came home and utilized my 9/11 GI Bill —," Ritzheimer replied before Cooper interjected.

"But now that you are allegedly educated on Islam — you were supporting an Islamic government in Iraq. So are you saying Marines and others who are currently serving in Afghanistan and elsewhere are supporting terrorists?" the CNN host asked.

"If there government is going to be run under Sharia law and stuff then yeah, I don't support that," Ritzheimer answered.

"Well, it's not Sharia law, but it is an Islamic government. So you believe that all active duty service members right now are supporting terrorism around the world?" Cooper continued to press.

"No, I do not believe that," Ritzheimer responded.

"But they are supporting Islamic governments and you believe that Islam equals terrorism," Cooper quipped back.

"I do not believe that," Ritzheimer said.

"You don't believe that Islam, at it's core, is terrorism?" a seemingly perplexed Cooper asked.

"Oh yes, true Islam is terrorism. The ones that are out committing these atrocities, they are following the book as it's written," Ritzheimer said.

Ritzheimer's "draw Muhammad" event is billed as peaceful, but also encourages participants to exercise their Second Amendment rights. It is scheduled to take place Friday and will include a protest in front of a mosque.

Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter


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