A list was published Wednesday with names of Muslims and “Muslim sympathizers,” along with their addresses. It has since been taken down — but was originally published by David Wright III, the organizer of an armed anti-Muslim protest at the Islamic Center of Irving, T.X. It highlights the intensification of Islamaphobia and threats of violence against Muslims in America and across the world.
With physical attacks against Muslim people and Muslim places of worship becoming alarmingly common, this is a violation of the privacy of people due to their religious beliefs. It indicates that, for Muslims merely practicing their faith, these beliefs may be taken as a forfeiture of the fundamental rights that all Americans hold dear.
Wright, the leader and spokesman of the group BAIR (Bureau of American Islamic Relations) copied the details from a list of objectors to a proposed bill that would forbid judges from using foreign law in their rulings. According to State Representative Jeff Leach, who introduced the bill, it also seeks to solve the “problem” of Islamic mediation practices.
In a Facebook post, the anti-Islam speaker prefaced that the list included the “name and address of every Muslim and ‘Muslim sympathizer’ that stood up for ‘Sharia tribunals’ in Irving.”
Despite the fact that the bill does not directly or at least solely target “Sharia tribunals,” individuals who exercised their free will and right to free speech found their personal details made alarmingly public — in flagrant contradiction of the justifications cited by fringe organizations such as BAIR that protect sacred values such as freedom of speech.
It would appear that where Muslims or issues affecting them are concerned, first amendment rights cannot be exercised with the intended freedom of democratic expression encoded in the American constitution. Although City Councillor David Palmer highlighted that the list and records were public information, he said that the posting of the information in this manner was a clear attempt to incite fear, intimidate people and inflame tensions in the Texan city.
In a state that recently came under widespread criticism for its racist treatment of Ahmed Mohamed, a teenage Muslim boy who was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school — incidents such as these highlight the need to take action in targeting Islamaphobia and anti-Muslim sentiments.
In a protest Saturday at the site of the earlier armed protest, gatherers expressed concerns that armed protests were targeting a local place of worship where young children studied.
The rally in support of the Islamic Center of Irving saw a high turnout despite forecasts of stormy weather. More than 200 people gathered outside the center for hours, expressing solidarity and support to exercise religious freedom and tolerance that intersected all segments of society.
One participant carried a sign that showed a photo from the previous protest, of a young hijabi woman being followed by a masked man brandishing a gun, questioning whether his actions were brave.
This latest incident indicates that it may be as hypocritical as it is cowardly.
Written by: Sahra Magan