N. TX Muslims condemn actions of Garland shooting suspects

By Diana Zoga

North Texas Muslim groups are publicly condemning the actions of two gunmen who were shot and killed Sunday in a Garland shooting outside a controversial Muhammad art contest

The contest was hosted by the New York-based American Freedom Defense Initiative. During the event $10,000 was awarded for the best cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

"This has nothing to do with us, beyond the person saying that they are a Muslim," said Alia Salem, the executive director of the North Texas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "I mean, if somebody was from a different faith background who committed this, nobody would be going to that particular demographic and saying, ‘Hey, do you condemn this?'"

Other Muslim groups have been eager to offer similar public condemnations not long after the shooting.

The president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Allen says if the gunmen in Garland opened fire in the name of Islam, they don't represent all Muslims.

"Even if it hurts your feelings, even if it is against your beliefs or even if somebody says something which hurts your feelings…still, there is no justification for this," he said.

It's a message that local Muslim leaders say they feel implored to repeat.

"In years, this has become a pattern -- focus towards the Muslim community, so there's some frustration there," said Salem.

Salem herself took to social media last month, asking Muslims to ignore the then-upcoming prophet art exhibit and contest.  

"This is violence in our backyard," said Salem. "This is not violence…you know, just directed at the Muslim community. A member of some faith tradition doing his job as a security guard was shot and injured…you know, he was there to deal with an event. But this is affecting all of us. Thank God this wasn't worse than it was."

The Culwell Center was chosen for the art contest specifically after it hosted an Islamic conference in January.

The group that held the January event, which was called the Stand with the Prophet in Honor and Respect Conference, told FOX 4 that it polled Muslims ahead of the Sunday art exhibit, and overwhelmingly, the responses from Muslims were to ignore the event instead of protesting it.

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