AUSTIN, Texas - Amid rising anti-Muslim sentiments, hundreds of Muslims in the US state of Texas have showed up at the state Capitol to speak with their lawmakers about their concerns despite threats from anti-Muslim website against the event.
Muslims are part of the fabric of America and Texas today, Hadi Jawad, a volunteer for the Texas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told MyFox Austin on Friday, February 1.
We want to be here and let our representatives know we're living in the communities.
On the south steps of the Capitol, Jawad spoke during the Texas Muslim Day at the Capitol event aimed to bring Muslims and lawmakers together.
The rally was held under heightened security after comments posted to Bar Naked Islam anti-Muslim website against the event.
The comments urged a warm Texas welcome... How do you Americans say? LOCK AND LOAD! Another comment suggested, Call out the Texas milita and kill or capture all participants.
Austin police filed a report about the threats, but the Department of Public Safety is now investigating.
We have been receiving a lot of death threats, said Sarwat Husain, the president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
We had to ask the FBI and local police to give us protection.
Despite the extra troopers, the Muslim Day program went off without any problems as several speakers made comments on the south steps.
We seek your divine guidance in decided matters for this state, prayed North Austin Muslim Community Center Imam Islam Mossaad, the first Islamic leader this session to offer the traditional daily benediction over the Texas House of Representatives.
I think it shows that Texas is a place of openness and understanding. That in times where there is a lot of cynicism and in times when there is a lot of confusion and misconceptions, that we embrace one another, Mossaad told KVUE News afterward.
The members here in the state, I think they understand and recognize that there is a higher power, and we're doing our best to do things right.
Showing up at the Capitol stairs, many Muslims wanted to speak with state lawmakers about important legislations to the religious minority.
They want to be part of this country, their issues are our issues because they are Americans as well, said State Rep. Armando Walle (D-Houston), who helped organize the event along with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
The Muslim Day program encouraged Muslims from across the state to get involved with their state government and promote education about issues facing the state as well as their faith.
At the end of the day, it is about how can we get everyone in Texas active and concerned, especially Muslims in Texas, said Mossaad.
Mustafaa Carrol of CAIR of Houston, who received a threatening phone call as well, said the sentiments are not a reflection of Texas as a whole.
You have nuts everywhere, in every religion, every faith, every state, said Carrol.
And those nuts sometimes make everybody think that the whole world is like that, and that's not true.US Muslims, estimated at between seven to eight million, have been sensing hostility in recent months.
A recent report by CAIR, the University of California and Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender found that Islamophobia in the US is on the rise.
A US survey had also revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A recent Gallup poll had found that 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least a little prejudice against Muslims.