Islamophobic rally in Texas as senators push for anti-Palestinian bill
By Patrick Strickland
A new bill introduced in the United States Senate demands that President Barack Obama move the US embassy from its present location in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as reported by the right-wing Times of Israel website.
Sponsored by hardline Republican Senators Dean Heller of Nevada and Ted Cruz of Texas, the bill – the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act of 2015 – is an updated version of previous bills that sought the same goal.
The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 grants the president “authority to waive certain funding limitations for Department of State acquisition and maintenance of buildings abroad until the US Embassy in Jerusalem has officially opened,” according to the US Congress’s website.
Heller’s and Cruz’s new bill, if passed, will eliminate the president’s authority to delay or not implement the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. In other words, it is an attempt to force the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem.
Though the bill stands little chance of surviving both the Congress and the Senate, it reflects an increasingly reactionary and pro-Israel agenda of right-wing American legislators. Cruz’s sponsorship also highlights the influential nature of Christian Zionism among Texan legislators.
As Cruz and other Texas leaders push for anti-Palestinian legislation, Islamophobia spreads on the ground. Hundreds of right-wing protesters gathered in Garland, a suburb of Dallas, on Saturday to demonstrate against a conference being held by the Muslim community organization Sound Vision.
According to the event’s Facebook page, the annual conference’s stated mission is to combat Islamophobia and “stand against terrorism and hate together with the Prophet …” Expecting a large turnout, Sound Vision rented the Curtis Culwell Center from the Garland Independent School District, as many local religious and civic organizations often do.
Upon catching wind of the conference, the Garland Tea Party and other local right-wing groups began complaining to local news outlets weeks before the event took place. Unabashed racism was on full display.
A Facebook event to protest Sound Vision’s annual conference was created by a group of motorcyclists — it is laden with Islamophobic myths and violent rhetoric, often associating all Muslims with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Ahead of the protest, several of the bikers debated whether or not they ought to bring guns, despite it being illegal under federal law to carry weapons on school grounds.
One Facebook user, Jonathan Peugh, stated his intention to bring a pig to the protest — ostensibly believing that the mere presence of pigs is somehow offensive to Muslims. On its website, the Tea Party-affiliated nonprofit organization Voices Empower posted an article suggesting that a new Islamic educational complex is a smokescreen for plans to establish a “Muslim village” in Dallas.
Debora Green, the article’s author, was parroting the widespread claim that cities across Europe have so-called “no-go Muslim areas.” This claim, peddled by Islamophic hate groups and anti-Muslim figures, has been demonstrated as false time and again.
Once the event was underway on Saturday afternoon, protesters assembled outside, waving American and Israeli flags and taunting Sound Vision conference attendees. Ruben Israel, a protester who traveled from Los Angeles with the group Bible Believers, told the Dallas-Fort Worth NBC affiliate that Muslims are “trying to promote that they are a bunch of peaceful people. I have issues with that.”
Greg McKinley, another protester, claimed the conference’s attendees are “a faction of people who want to destroy [the United States],” as shown in another NBC report.
Others held up signs absurdly claiming Muslims are trying establish “Sharia” — Islamic law — in Texas and the rest of the United States. One man brandished a poster reading: “Go home and take Obama with you.”
“We pay our taxes to that school, and I don’t want [Muslims] here,” Lavona Martindale said, as bigoted chants like “You’re not welcome here!” rang out.
A similar protest is scheduled to take place outside a Houston hotel holding a conference for local Islamic religious organizations on Sunday night.