A Project of the Council on American-Islamic Relations

2015: Not in Isolation: Anti-Islam Incidents in Texas

Ahmed Mohamed, a ninth grader in Irving, Texas, brought a homemade clock to school. While such a productive use of time normally gets a student praised, Ahmed was placed in handcuffs after police were summoned. This is not the first incident where Texans who follow Islam felt were singled out.

Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne Made Islamophobic Claims

Earlier this year, the city council in Irving considered an anti-Islam bill after Mayor Beth Van Duyne alleged that local Muslims sought separate laws and courts.  According to local reporting on the issue, “The mayor provided no evidence and later acknowledged she had not spoken to” local Islamic organizers. The Islamic Center of Irving was compelled to ask police for increased security after it received a number of threats in the hearing’s wake.

Other School Incidents

Jo Lynn Haussmann, a member of the Keller Board of Education, posted a comment on Facebook in which she criticized people in South Lake for not voting which, she stated, led to a Muslim being voted onto the city council. “Do you realize because SO FEW voters took the time and responsibility to VOTE in the municipal elections – YOU NOW HAVE A ‘MUSLIM’ on the City Council!!! WHAT A SHAME!!!!!” Haussmann wrote in the post.

In April, 2015, a teacher at Foster High School in Richmond passed out virulently anti-Muslim materials in class. The materials contained claims such as: “Both Jesus and Paul warned that after they were gone many false prophets would come. Muhammad is simply one of them. . .”

Other misinformation included:

  • “Islam is more of an ideology than a religion. It is also an ideology of war. . .”
  • [Islam forces] its ideology on cultures and ultimately on the world through propaganda, subversion, and even physical force when it is deemed necessary, one area of the world at a time.”
  • “You will either give into their demands recognizing Islam’s ‘noble’ rule, you will become a Muslim yourself, or you will die.”
  • “[Muslims believe] All governments – except Islam – should be overthrown.”
  • “. . .everyone will be brought under the yoke of Islam, willingly or unwillingly.”
  • “. . .even though generally Islamic followers will say that the ‘believe’ in Jesus and respect Him and the Bible, in fact, neither is really true.”

 The teacher later resigned.

Threats Against Texans of the Islamic Faith

Robert James Talbot planned to launch his “American Insurgent Movement” by murdering police and “spraying a mosque with gunfire.” Police arrested him the day he was to allegedly launch his attack.

A man in Austin threatened to bomb a local mosque and also a Middle Eastern restaurant.

In Houston, a mosque was threatened in response to a social media page advertising a religious lecture. The threat read: “Islam should be outlawed in the US, I’ll be there to make sure you do not enjoy your ‘event.’ See you soon.”

Well before the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine, The “Stand with the Prophet against Hate and Terror” was scheduled to occur in Garland. Sound Vision Foundation, the event’s sponsor, said it was designed to help challenge growing Islamophobia in American society. After the Paris terror attacks, event organizers reported that a number of threatening messages targeting the conference were posted online. One message stated: “I know where Garland is, I have guns, and I hope someone has some Dynamite.” Another stated: “My gun won’t be empty of bullets until the end so f*** you and your religion.” Yet another message stated: “I can be there within 9 [hours] with guns from where I live now … (and maybe matches just in case we need dynamite).” On the day of the event, anti-Islam protectors, some carrying weapons, picketed the venue.

In February 2015, officials with the Quba Islamic Institute say investigators with the Houston Fire Department found that an accelerant was used in the fire that broke out at the facility. Darryl Ferguson was later arrested for the crime. During his arraignment prosecutors reported that Ferguson had told a store clerk that he “hated Muslims, they got what they deserved, and things happen for a reason.”

Man Yelled “Go Back to Islam” Then Murdered a Muslim

Ziad Abu Naim was shot to death in Houston. A witness described the event, which occurred following a traffic incident: “(The BMW’s driver) stopped his car and rolled down his window. So, my friend rolled down the window and the guy yelled ‘Go back to Islam.’ That’s when my friend got upset. He got out his car and when I looked I saw him walk out the car. Next thing, I heard a pop.”

State Rep. Molly White Rejects Texans of the Islamic Faith

During the 2015 Texas Muslim Capitol Day, state Rep. Molly White left an Israeli flag on her desk and instructed her staff to “ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws.” In response to White, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) released the following statement: “The Texas Capitol belongs to all the people of this state, and legislators have a responsibility to treat all visitors just as we expect to be treated — with dignity and respect. Anything else reflects poorly on the entire body and distracts from the very important work in front of us.”

Anti-Islam Legislating

The Texas legislature considered nine anti-Islam bills in 2014-2015. Two of the bills drew language from anti-Muslim extremist David Yerushalmi‘s American Laws for American Courts (ALAC), the template anti-Islam bill seen across the nation.

Anti-Islam Demonstrators

When Texas Muslims went to Austin to meet with state elected officials, some demonstrators who objected to the event came armed.

In January 2015, a group of demonstrators led by Ruben Israel of Bible Believers carried signs and yelled through a bullhorn at Muslims attending prayers at the Islamic Association of North Texas. “Islam is filled with murder,” Israel yelled and added, “How many of you Muslims are terrorists?”

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