It is one thing to be opposed to extremism, terror, and mayhem perpetrated by the followers of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL)—but quite another to be anti-Muslim because the terrorists claim to follow tenets of Islam. Yet, as The Dallas Morning News reported this weekend, about a dozen protesters in Irving, Texas wanted to “show force” outside a mosque in Irving. Why? They were ostensibly upset because of rumors that the mosque had a Sharia court, and the protesters wanted to block Syrian refugees from entering the United States to prevent a Parisian-style attack on our soil.
The rumor of a Sharia court was circulated earlier this year by Tea Party-darling Beth Van Dune, Irving’s mayor. She posted this ridiculous claim – for which there is no evidence – on Facebook, and then it was (not unsurprisingly) blindly publicized by Fox News and Glenn Beck:
“Recently, there have been rumors suggesting that the City of Irving has somehow condoned, approved or enacted the implementation of a Sharia Law Court in our City. Let me be clear, neither the City of Irving, our elected officials or city staff have anything to do with the decision of the mosque that has been identified as starting a Sharia Court.”
The group of people carrying guns and trying to terrorize worshippers at the mosque call themselves the “Bureau of American Islamic Relations.” Their leader, David Wright, who was dressed in tactical black and toting a shogun, said: The weapons were “mostly for self protection…But I’m not going to lie. We do want to show force. We’re not sitting ducks…We don’t want people to think we’re out to kill people or shoot people. It would be ridiculous to protest Islam without defending ourselves.”
The police had alerted the mosque’s leaders about the rally and urged worshippers to steer clear of the protesters, while at the same time expressing a truly American value – praising the protesters’ exercising their freedom of speech. Recognizing the nonsense for what it was, City Council Member David Palmer, who witnessed the bizarre spectacle, most enlightenedly said:
“My initial impression was they were using them for intimidation…I doubt that they’d be happy if some of the Muslim churchgoers here showed up at their Christian church, their Baptist church, their Methodist church tomorrow morning with rifles slung over their shoulders.”
This is the same municipality that, back in September, arrested a 14-year old Muslim, Ahmed Mohamed, for making a
hoax bomb clock, which he brought to school to show his teachers. Groups like Wright’s cling to the fear that letting Syrian refugees into the United States could facilitate an attack here, as in France. Forgetting for the moment that none of the terrorists involved in the tragedy in Paris were Syrian refugees, these gun-toting Christian, easily-manipulated crazies are whipped into hysteria by hate-mongering, xenophobic Republican presidential candidates and lawmakers – who are also trying to prevent or delay accepting Syrian refugees into our country. Comments from Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump, saying he would, if elected, forcibly register Muslim-Americans and trigger mass deportation of illegal immigrants, encourage and help to set these Tea Party crazies in motion.
The protester’s actions demonstrate they believe it is a pro-American value for Republicans and their presidential candidates to protest and incite against the practice of another great religion of the world contrary to the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution, which they claim to cherish. It’s a despicable display of racism and xenophobia that is unfortunately all too common in our country these days.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.