POLITICS
23/11/2015 12:32 AM IST

Gun-Toting Islamophobic Group Protests Outside Texas Mosque

"We do want to show force. … It would be ridiculous to protest Islam without defending ourselves."

In the latest anti-Islamic incident to take place following the Paris attacks, demonstrators in Irving, Texas, protested on the sidewalk outside a mosque with guns, Islamophobic signs and American flags. 

The dozen or so demonstrators referring to themselves as the Bureau of American Islamic Relations, or BAIR, gathered outside the Islamic Center of Irving on Saturday. One sign read "Stop the Islamization of America" and another, with arrows pointing at armed protesters dressed in military clothes and face masks, said "The solution to Islamic terrorism," local outlets reported.

"We are here protesting Syrian refugees coming to America, protesting the Islamization of America," BAIR spokesman David Wright told Fox 4 News. "I think the popular belief is people are scared. They're scared to say anything about it. They're scared to come out to a place like this and stand in front of a mosque and protest Islam."

Wright, who was carrying a 12-gauge shotgun, told The Dallas Morning News that his weapon was mainly for self-defense but added, "We do want to show force. … It would be ridiculous to protest Islam without defending ourselves."

Local police were on the scene and warned the mosque about the rally in advance, urging them to stay away from the group, The Dallas Morning News noted. The worshippers and students at the Islamic school rarely came within 100 feet of the rally. 

The Islamic Center of Irving did not immediately return requests for comment on the protest but posted a statement on its website in the wake of the Paris attacks.

"Our condolences go out to the families and loved ones of the victims," the mosque wrote. "We also strongly condemn and denounce the attacks, as they have absolutely no basis in the religion on Islam." 

The Islamic Center of Irving is only the latest mosque to face bigotry by people who believe the Paris attackers represent the world's 1.6 billion Muslims. Last week, a mosque in Pflugerville, Texas, was vandalized with feces and torn pages of the Quran, and police say a mosque in Ontario, Canada, was deliberately set on fire.

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