On Sunday evening, reports of violence in the suburbs of Garland, Dallas have spread throughout the news as the „Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” was drawing to an end.
The suspects, who had reportedly drove to the Curtis Culwell Center, the hosting venue of the event, began the shooting, wounding an unarmed security officer. In return, the Garland Police issued a statement that the two suspects were shot by the officers. Details as to the motivation of the two shooters were not released.
Nonetheless, it is believed that their motivation was yet another event in which the prophet Muhammad was depicted in what is seen by the Islamic community at large as a blasphemous act.
The cartoon contest was organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an openly anti-Muslim group, led by conservative president Pamela Geller. The Southern Poverty Law Center which is tasked to track hate groups labeled the Initiative as an inciter to hate based on race or religion. The event had drawn a large public and as much as 350 submissions caricaturizing the prophet in a bid for the grand prize of 10,000 dollars.
At the same time, the contest started the keynote speaker Geert Wilders, Dutch right-wing law maker who sported clear anti-Muslim views throughout his career. His views on Islam, immigration into Europe or migrants’ assimilation have been nothing short of controversial in Europe and have often led to protests and violence. Mr. Wilders’s name also appears on an Al-Qaeda hit list.
In the short aftermath of the shooting the FBI, accompanied by the Garland police officers evacuated the participants to the event, as well as the nearby premises in order to ensure the safety of civilians against possible bombs left at the scene. The cars of the suspects were screened for explosive, as well as the nearby area, with no reported threats.
While no Islamist organization took the toll for the shooting, one Dallas Muslim leader tweeted that the attack must have been a lone one, unorganized and unaffiliated and the Muslim community didn’t need another heavy charge to taint its name and beliefs.
The shooting that took place on Sunday comes a short while after the Muhammad caricature related shootings in France and Denmark. In January, the headquarters of the prominent Charlie Hebdo magazine was stormed and 12 people fell as casualties. February saw another shooting in Denmark at a free speech forum, also connected to caricatured depictions of the prophet. In the US, Molly Norris still finds herself in hiding after four years since she was targeted for execution by Islamic extremists.
Image Source: nbcdfw.com
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