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It’s also the home to an Islamophobic group that has begun listing the names and home addresses of local Muslim residents in addition to staging armed protests outside a local mosque, the Islamic Center of Irving. The group calls itself the Bureau on American-Islamic Relations (BAIR), a name that’s perhaps intended to purposely be confused with national Muslim civil rights organization the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Their appearances outside the mosque dressed in full military combat gear and armed with assault rifles has terrified locals.
In a video segment on local station Fox 4, a member of the group is shown following a local Muslim family down the street outside the mosque Saturday while clutching what looks like an AK-47 rifle, wearing fatigues with his face covered by a mask.
Police were in attendance during the BAIR protest, but did not stop the armed men from following Muslim mosque-goers outside the center—likely because of the extremely liberal open carry laws in Texas, which ensured that the armed men were not breaking any laws.
Other members of the group carried signs that pointed to the guns, reading “Solution to Islamic Terrorism.”
On Tuesday, BAIR ramped up the fear-mongering by circulating a list on Facebook that showed the names and addresses of about 60 local Muslims and “sympathizers.”
“I think this puts a bullseye on my back and on everybody’s back that’s on that list,” Irving resident Anthony Bond told Fox 4. Bond was one of many locals who voted against an anti-Muslim measure raised at the city council meeting last March. Many of those who opposed the measure are now on the “sympathizers” list.
The Dallas-based branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) found its executive director, Alia Salem, on the list as well.
“This is the first time I’ve been slightly alarmed,” Salem told the Dallas Morning News. “As bad as things have gotten in the past, and especially recently, this is the first time where I see people taking this public.”
Local residents have organized an upcoming counter-protest this Saturday calling for peace. According to the Facebook page for the event, peace protestors plan to “show Irving and the world that hate and intolerance will not stand.”
Screengrab via Fox4News.com
Mary Emily O'Hara is an LGBTQ reporter. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, NBC Out, Daily Dot, Broadly, Vice, the Daily Beast, the Advocate, Huffington Post, DNAinfo, Al Jazeera, and Portland's Pulitzer Prize-winning newsweekly Willamette Week, among other outlets.