GARLAND, Texas – Hundreds of protesters were out in force Saturday at a Muslim gathering blacked out to the media called “Stand with the Prophet” whose keynote speaker, an imam from Brooklyn, has been linked as an unindicted co-conspirator with the deadly 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
The imam, Siraj Wahhaj, once remarked, “It is my duty and our duty as Muslims to replace the U.S. Constitution with the Quran.”
President Obama formally invited Wahhaj to give a “juma,” or invocation, at the Democratic National Convention in 2012, but his invitation was withdrawn after public criticism of the decision became widespread.
Hundreds or more protesters attended the rally and members of the media were denied open access to event attendees, including WND and the Blaze.
Among the protesters was commentator and activist Pamela Geller, author of “The Islamization of America,” who said she was there to expose “supremacist” control of the event, attacking what she believes was a concerted effort to keep not just press from the event but ticketed non-Muslims as well.
“A number of people who were going were refunded their money late last night and told they were sold out,” she said. “The people that were going had English-sounding names. So, did they purge people they didn’t think were Muslims? Isn’t that supremacist?”
Attendees were brought in through a barricade in cars, and only two attendees were escorted out of the Culwell Center (where the rally was being held) to talk with available press. These two persons were accompanied by an event cameraman, who followed them through crowds of protesters. One of them compared the peaceful protesters outside the event to ISIS.
“The event today is to honor our prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and also to speak out today about the fact that Muslims are not violent people,” said spokeswoman Page Spence. “We are peaceful people. We want nothing more than to be part of this culture and community. We are level-headed peaceable people who are not trying to convert every single person to our religion.”
Spence closed her remarks by comparing protestors to ISIS: “The same people who are protesting are misrepresenting the Quran the way ISIS does.”
Police instructed WND and other press representatives that they were not able to interview event attendees except behind the barricade, which actually encircled the parking area, so as to prevent any real interaction with attendees. Press requests to interview attendees with police escorts were denied.
Randy Dunning, a former Garland City Council member, told WND: “People were brought in cars, but they were cordoned off so that the media could not actually get at or talk to the attendees of the conference. In city government, we have to be totally accessible to members of the media, the public is allowed into our meetings, and everything is done in a very transparent fashion.”
When asked about the speaker, Siraj Wihhaj, and his reputation as advocating the subjection of American freedoms and government to Islamic religious codes, Dunning remarked, “Our freedom is not a suicide pact. We can’t create a situation where we have one last opportunity to use our freedom and then use that to invoke some tyranny. … But unfortunately, there are movements in the world, and I believe radical Islam is one of them, that believe in one man, one vote, one time.”
On the idea that Islam doesn’t have a “violence problem” but rather a “messaging problem,” Dunning said he was “mystified by that idea.” Dunning explained that he would want to know “why are the kidnappings and the killings happening in the first place and then we can open up and start having dialogue.”
Protesters included Jeff Higgins, who said he was concerned “Islam was gaining a foothold in Garland.”
“This is my backyard,” he explained. “We live under the American law, not Shariah law and I know that ultimately, that’s their goal, is to bring Shariah law to America. This is the first kind of, in-your-face attempt to do that. I know they’ll say this is about peace, but peace means submission to them.”
Vietnam veteran Tim Lee said he is worried about his children and the future of America.
“America was built upon God and the word of God, not Allah, not Muhammad.” He said. “The Muslim religion is a religion of death. They kill people, innocent people, little children, chop heads off, and we are going to bring this to Garland, Texas?”