Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Muslim Leaders Brace for Protest at Texas Muslim Capitol Day

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 8:35 AM

Islamic Center of San Antonio - SARAH BROOKE LYONS
  • Sarah Brooke Lyons
  • Islamic Center of San Antonio
It's Texas Muslim Capitol Day in Austin, the one day of the year dedicated to Texas Muslims sharing their thoughts and concerns with state leaders — and this year, they're bringing bodyguards.

Falling four days after President Trump dropped a ban barring immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. and weeks after Texas State Representative Kyle Biedermann sent a survey out to Texas Muslim leaders asking if they support "radical Islamic terrorism," it's little surprise.

According to Sarwat Husain, president of San Antonio's Council on American–Islamic Relations chapter, dozens of supporters will build a "human wall" around Husain and fellow Muslim leaders as they hold a press conference in front of the capitol Tuesday morning.

"It's so incredibly kind," Husain told the Current. "They offered without us having to ask." Last time Husain spoke at Muslim Capitol Day, her microphone was ripped out of her hand by anti-Muslim protesters.

It's not just the current political climate that's put Texas Muslims on edge. In 2015, the last time Muslim Capitol Day coincided with the legislative session, visitors were met with anti-Muslim protests and a xenophobic welcoming from some state representatives.

Then-Rep. Molly White, who refused to be present on the day two years ago, left an Israeli flag on the reception desk in her office and instructions to staff to ask that Muslim community leaders swear to "renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws."

"We will see how long they stay in my office," she wrote in a Facebook post.

(Just last week, White called a reporter a "low-life son of a bitch" for asking a question about radical Christian groups at a capitol forum held by Rep. Biedermann on radical Islam.)

Husain is prepared for protesters, but said the threat hasn't deterred many San Antonio Muslims from driving up to the capitol today.

"We want to be heard by our representatives as much as any other Texan," she said. "This is our right."

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