During a Wave of Islamophobia, One Texas Man Offers Love and Hope to Muslim Neighbors

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In face of growing hate crimes against Muslims, one Texas man shows love and compassion: Justin Normand.
(Facebook)

Since the election of Donald Trump – a uniquely unqualified candidate who ascended to political power through demagoguery and hate speech – there has has been a growing list of hate crimes. The Southern Poverty Law Center has counted nearly 900 incidents of hateful harassment in the ten days following the election

Targeted demographics include the LGBTQ, Jewish, and black communities. Perhaps the strongest surge, however, has been of hate crimes against Muslims.

From Trump supporters assaulting Muslim women, to letters sent to mosques threatening a genocide of Muslims in Trump’s name, the hate unleashed by the charlatan president-elect has unnerved American Muslims, who number around 3.3 million in the United States. The Trump campaign, after all, played around with fascist ideas specifically targeting their community, including a complete ban on Muslims as well as a registry of American Muslims.

But while hateful incidents pile up – shaking the core of what it means to be an American – one Texas man is defying hate through a display of love. Justin Normand, a resident of Dallas, has posted up outside of an area Mosque with flowers and a sign that reads: “You belong. Stay Strong. Be Blessed. We are one America.”

In a Facebook post shared by some 16,000 users, Normand explained his intentions:

Friday, I had a couple of spare hours in the afternoon, so I did. I made a sign, and I drove to the nearest mosque and stood out on the public sidewalk to share the peace with my neighbors. My marginalized, fearful, decent, targeted, Muslim neighbors. For me, this wasn’t about expressing agreement; I remain Presbyterian, not Muslim. It wasn’t about demonstrating my outrage to right-wing drivers driving down Esters Road in front of the mosque. I can never, and will never, change any of the haters. It’s not about them. Not this time, and not here. This was about binding up the wounded. About showing compassion and empathy for the hurting and fearful among us. Or, in some Christian traditions, this was about washing my brother’s feet. This was about my religion, not theirs. And, it was about what I think I must do as an American when our way of life is threatened. Targeting people for their religion not only threatens our way of life, it is the polar opposite of our way of life.

Displays such as this are certainly welcome in this uncertain and fearful era. If you feel so moved, consider making holiday gifts to the Southern Poverty Law Center or the ACLU to guarantee protections for the marginalized communities targeted by the Trump regime.

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