Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Avi Selk/Staff
About a dozen armed protesters set up near the Islamic Center of Irving on Saturday afternoon in reaction to the terrorist attack in Paris and Syrian refugees in the United States.
The outcry would be loud and long.
It should be the same today after a dozen armed protesters toted their guns and signs at the Islamic Center of Irving mosque on Saturday during afternoon prayers.
The small band said they were spurred by an Islamic group's terrorist attacks in Paris. The protesters, like many Americans, want to block Syrian refugees from coming here. They said they were armed for self-defense and want to stop the "Islamization of America."
This is America. Free speech and the right to protest are our calling cards.
But AR-15s at a place of worship? That is out of bounds, and it shows how very close we are to chaos.
This is also Texas, where a handful of gun owners have carried their weapons to many a Chipotle and Chili's throughout the state to demonstrate their right to do so.
But there's a difference between taking your gun to a local food joint and taking it to a mosque.
One of the organizers of the Irving protest said the group resorted to the protest after trying unsuccessfully to talk to mosque leaders. But do you blame them for not talking to people who so hate them that the protesters would bring guns to the place they pray?
The Anti-Defamation League expressed concern Sunday about the Irving protest and the anti-Muslim sentiment throughout our country. As Americans, we have the right to worship as we please, it pointed out.
Roberta Clark, the league's regional director, was on the mark when she said, "It's hard to believe a house of worship would feel anything but threatened by people protesting … with weapons and hateful rhetoric."But this is Irving, where Muslim high-schooler Ahmed Mohamed was arrested and suspended for bringing a clock to school that officials thought was a fake bomb. And this is the city where Mayor Beth Van Duyne has railed against Shariah law. News comes now that Ahmed's family, claiming civil rights violations, is demanding $15 million and an apology from the mayor and police chief.
Ahmed's case got international attention. Armed bullies outside a mosque in Irving should, too.
The Anti-Defamation League and several other civil rights groups have called on Americans to reject hatemongering and xenophobia.
It's a shame that appears to be a tall order as we look for real solutions to deal with real concerns over protecting ourselves from violent terrorists.
We all should collectively pray for peace — in whatever house of worship we choose — and leave our guns at home.

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