On Saturday, January 17th, an Islamic group held a conference in Garland, Texas at the Curtis Culwell Center sponsored by a local school district to discuss a fundraiser entitled “Stand With the Prophet Against Terror and Hate.” During the conference, about a dozen protesters gathered outside of the convention center waving American flags and holding up signs with Bible scriptures and racist remarks such as, “Go Home and Take Obama With You.”
The fundraiser itself is to create a center devoted to advising Muslims on how to combat Islamophobes, terrorism, and discrimination. Judging from the outraged crowd outside, they certainly have a lot of work to do. According to Washington Times, about 500 attendees were expected to be at the conference, including guest speaker Imam Siraj Wahhaj, a co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Many conference attendees assure that they do not want to cause any harm and just simply want to be accepted in America. Page Spence, a conference attendee and Muslim woman, expressed her thoughts after the conference. She stated:
I want for people to see that we are kind peaceful people. We’re not here to fight, we’re not here to argue. We’re just here to show that we’re Americans too.
Many protesters complained about where the conference was being taken place. Mother and infuriated protester Lavona Martindale believes that Garland Independent School District should not allow renting privileges to Muslims in the facility. She said:
We pay our taxes to that school, and I don’t want them here.
Garland school district spokesperson, Chris Moore tells NBC Affiliate that the district does not discriminate against facility renters solely on their religion.Moore says:
And we’re going to keep that open to them. This is a non-discriminatory facility.
Following that statement, one man told a school board member, “I certainly don’t think you need people there who want to destroy this country.”
In general, a lot of this animosity is due to the murderous terrorist attacks in Paris. KVUE asked Ruben Israel, a Los Angeles street preacher, if he saw a distinction between the families attending the conference and the terrorists who committed the murders in France. He replied:
I see common ground.
Another local protester, Greg McKinley, told KVUE, “We’re here to stand up for the American way of life from a faction of people who are trying to destroy us.” Immediately after he added:
If they want to live their life like the middle east, they can go back to the middle east.
Feeling targeted, counter protesters quickly became defensive. Manal Abdulhadi, another conference attendee said:
Whoever does these acts of terrorism, they don’t represent us and they sure as heck do not represent me.
It is heartbreaking to witness some Americans perceive the entire Muslim community as terrorists. When in reality, most are craving to conform into the American lifestyle. It is merely the extremists who cause such harm and grief to our country, not the people who are just trying to fit in. I think society tends to forget that.
Watch the video below:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SYe_xZzPR4]