An anti-Islam group which staged an armed protest outside a Dallas Islamic centre has posted names and addresses of Muslims and “Muslim sympathisers” on its Facebook page, adding to growing tensions in north Texas following the Paris terror attacks.
The group, which calls itself the Bureau of American Islamic Relations, staged an armed protest outside an Islamic centre in the Dallas suburb of Irving last Saturday. “We’re here protesting Syrian refugees coming to America, protesting the Islamisation of America,” David Wright, a spokesman, told local FOX4 News.
The list of more than 50 names is taken from a record of people who spoke or signed up to express an opinion at an Irving city council meeting in March where the council voted to endorse a planned state bill emphasising the already enshrined primacy of domestic laws above foreign laws.
Many Muslims in the community felt targeted by the event, which came after the Irving mayor, Beth Van Duyne, made waves in the rightwing media by making references to an Islamic dispute mediation panel that wrongly became characterised as an “illegal Sharia court”.
Alia Salem, executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said the atmosphere at last week’s protest was “very threatening. They had AR-15 [rifles], they had their faces covered.” The open carrying of long guns is legal in Texas.
Since the Paris attacks on 13 November, Salem said, CAIR has “gotten a large increase in hate-crime reporting”. She said that she herself had twice been verbally abused. Feces and torn pages of the Koran were thrown at a mosque in the Austin suburb of Pflugerville.
CAIR’s national headquarters in Washington issued a statement saying it “has received more reports about acts of Islamophobic discrimination, intimidation, threats, and violence targeting American Muslims (or those perceived to be Muslim) and Islamic institutions in the past week and a half than during any other limited period of time since the 9/11 terror attacks”.
It attributed the increase to “the Paris attacks and to the mainstreaming of Islamophobia by political candidates and lawmakers in the run-up to the 2016 general election” as well as politicians calling for the US to stop accepting Syrian refugees and questioning whether screening processes are effective.
There are an estimated 200,000 Muslims in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Another Dallas suburb, Garland, was the scene of a large anti-Muslim protest in January following the Charlie Hebdo massacre. In May, Garland police shot dead two gunmen at a “draw the prophet” contest.
The men had spent time at a Phoenix mosque which was the site of an armed demonstration last month as part of an anti-Islam “Global Rally for Humanity” which failed to attract widespread support.
Irving attracted international attention in September when Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old student, was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school that officials said resembled a bomb. He and his family have since moved to Qatar and are demanding $15m in damages.
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