Texas Muslim Capitol Day sees overwhelming support
Hundreds of Texans attended Texas Muslim Capitol Day Tuesday. However, many of the attendees were not Muslims but instead people who wanted to make sure their Muslim neighbors felt welcome.
"I am truly humbled and overwhelmed by your support," said Shaykh Mohamed-Umer Esmail, Nueces Mosque Imam.
"This is really what America looks like," Mustafaa Carroll, executive director of the Houston office for the Council of American Islamic Relations, told the crowd.
Locked arm in arm, creating a human barricade, supporters made Texas Muslim Capitol Day a day of humanity. Hundreds of non-Muslim volunteers showed signs of support by the shirts they were wearing, the posters they were holding and simply their presence.
"I wanted to show my support for the members of my community that I interact with every day, and make sure they feel welcome here in Austin and here in Texas," said Jeremy Selvidge who joined the human barricade. Together Selvidge and at least 500 others kept potential protesters from interrupting the event -- like what happened in 2015.
"[In 2015] they stood out -- might have been 20 or 25 [people] -- with bull horns and they heckled and told us to go back to Saudi Arabia and take Obama and it was a challenge," recalled Carroll. However, that tension from two years ago was absent Tuesday.
"The overwhelming feeling we got was just love. Nothing but," he said.
State troopers stood by in case the peace was disturbed. A single protester shouted, "[This is] not a capitol of Islam. It is not!"
Young Muslim Americans encouraged each other to get involved in government.
"Brothers and sisters … we're American. This is our country and in this great country people create the change," said Hiba Siddiqi, a freshman at St. Edward's University. She told the crowd they must work together and unite to protect all individual rights.
"I'm so, so happy with the turnout and the support and I'm glad people are seeing it as an issue and being active," Siddiqi said.
Many Muslims also spent the afternoon meeting with lawmakers. One legislative item Carrol said CAIR is pushing for would make cyber-bullying a crime. They're also against anti-sharia law and anti-sanctuary city legislation.