AUSTIN (KXAN) — Religious protesters disrupted the biennial Texas Muslim Capitol Day as hundreds gathered on the south steps Thursday to meet with lawmakers. The rally drew extra security from Department of Public Safety troopers, who separated the two groups by several hundred feet.
Protesters carried signs and chanted “Jesus” and “No Sharia here” throughout the event.
The event is sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations and is held every two years when lawmakers are in session. About 300 people, including dozens of middle- and high school students, attended the rally and then met with lawmakers to share their concerns with several proposed bills.
“Texas Muslim Capitol Day will provide Muslims with an opportunity to benefit Texans state-wide by urging lawmakers to support issues that affect people of all faiths,” said Mustafaa Carroll, executive director of the Houston chapter. “This is also an opportunity for people of all ages to learn about the democratic process.”
Online threats prompted the Muslim civil rights group to contact the FBI, and protesters continued to chant loudly as the Muslim group prayed. Carroll said the group’s agenda in no way encouraged passage of Sharia law, the moral code and religious law of Islam.
“It’s not even logical,” he said. “It’s a shame that I even have to address that.”
As the rally began, protester Christine Weick, who had been posing as a participant, grabbed the microphone.
“I proclaim the name of the Lord Jesus Christ over the Capitol of Texas. I stand against Islam and the false prophet Mohammad,” the 50-year-old from Michigan said. “Islam will never dominate the United States and by the grace of God, it will not dominate Texas.” The woman then walked away and joined the other protesters.
Inside the Capitol, an Israeli flag — a symbol of support for the Jewish state — greeted visitors to Rep. Molly White’s office. On Facebook, the Republican lawmaker posted that she was out of the office but gave her staff instructions to ask visiting Muslims “to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws.”
“The Texas Capitol belongs to all the people of this state, and legislators have a responsibility to treat all visitors just as we expect to be treated — with dignity and respect,” Speaker of the House Joe Straus said in a statement following the event. “Anything else reflects poorly on the entire body and distracts from the very important work in front of us.”
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.