Terrorist Attack at Free Speech Event in Texas: An Eyewitness Account

by AMIL IMANI May 8, 2015

Just recently two tickets and invitation had arrived for me to attend an important event on Sunday, May 3, 2015, an occurrence with major repercussions that few would have imagined but that underscored the occasion's significance. The tickets came in an envelope from fellow counter-jihadist and friend Pamela Geller of the American Freedom Defense Initiative. While the event was billed as a gathering to determine who could draw the best cartoon of the Muslim prophet Mohammad, I knew it was much more than just that: Indeed, the cartoon contest was a rallying point for cartoonists and freedom-loving Americans to stand their ground on their Constitutional, First Amendment rights, including and especially freedom of speech and expression. The occasion also represented a unity rally to stand with the victims of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in Paris, France, on January 7, 2015.

This venue was chosen as a defiant response to a Muslim group that had held a conference entitled "Stand With the Prophet Against Terror and Hate" in January in the very same building in Garland, Texas. The cartoons were not drawn to offend Muslims, although it was undeniable that they would. The underlying message of this gathering was to send a critical, loud and clear message to the world that we lovers of freedom do not tolerate the demonstrated intolerance of the adherents of the "religion of peace," and we stand firm for our values and for the U.S. Constitution.

Interestingly enough, Muslim fanatics lash out in savagery and barbarism when they perceive that the sanctity of their "religion of peace" is affronted in the form of a cartoon, a video, a book, or an individual burning of a Quran. Yet, these same fanatics feel free not only to insult other peoples' religions but also to wreak all kinds of horrific and violent acts upon them. Defaming, insulting, and desecrating others' beliefs is in the fabric of Islam itself, as I know too well from personal experience with Islam in my homeland of Iran.

By contrast, the Muslim event held on January 2015 in Garland, Texas, was convened to eliminate free speech or any expression, verbal and/or artwork depicting the Islamic prophet Mohammad in a negative light. Atop this Muslim fanatical group's agenda was a proposed U.N. resolution which held that any negative speech about Mohammed or Islam anywhere in the world (including any drawings of Islam's prophet) should be disallowed and the writer/artist sanctioned. While they thought the power of the U.N. was universal, they were badly mistaken. The U.S. Constitution clearly states that no foreign agreement, U.N. resolutions or any treaty can supersede the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, an integral part of that ruling document. The First Amendment makes it abundantly clear that the right to free speech (which includes artwork) "shall not be infringed."

In general, devout Muslims are always offended by a particular individual drawing a portrait of the prophet of Islam or burning of a Quran at one end of the world, and the fanatics react with mayhem, violence and killings wherever they live, perhaps on the other end of the world. Nevertheless, whatever is drawn is protected by the First Amendment in this country. So, if someone makes a video or draws a cartoon offensive to Muslims, is the video or the cartoon to blame for inciting riots? Did it violate freedom of expression? If so, it is the duty of the courts to decide the matter and mete out the appropriate punishment and not the prerogative of the violent mob to unleash its wrath on buildings and innocent people.

As the date for the event I was to attend neared, I was looking forward to seeing many familiar and also new faces who shared my views on Islam, but tingling apprehensiveness had fused itself to my positive anticipation. As a life-long expert on the subject of Islam, I felt that this event-more than anything else Pamela could have done-would be the target of a violent terrorist attack in the name of the so-called religion of peace, either real and explosive or on social media at the very least. The attack on Charlie Hebdo was till fresh in my mind, of course, but I put my apprehensions aside. Nothing was going to stop me from attending.

When the day finally arrived, despite occasional twinges I was more than ready to be counted among those who felt passionately about the First Amendment. I would stand up to Islam and the PC machine that had enabled Muslim fanatics to gain so much access to this country already, in the form of Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers appointed within our government, for example. I reminded myself of the inviolable rights set forth in our Bill of Rights and told myself that not attending would mean I let the radical Muslim/jihadists win through inaction.

As I turned into the driveway at the art exhibit and free-speech event in Garland on May 3, 2015, I was astonished at the large police presence already there. Some of the cops were dressed in tactical gear and carrying AR-15s. The security was ubiquitous, almost as if something untoward had already happened. At the gate, I was asked for my tickets, which I produced, and was then waved into the expansive parking lot.

As I walked towards the door of the convention center, it was impossible to miss the looks of trepidation on the faces of those who entered with me. It wasn't an expression of paranoia, per se, but rather one betraying some anxiety. Such a feeling was understandable: As people familiar with Islam and its proponents' efforts to curtail our free speech, the attendees clearly knew that an event of this sort could be an ideal opportunity for a terrorist attack. But I could also see relief in their eyes when these intrepid participants noticed the police presence there.

When I got inside, other police were waiting there with a metal detector. As I stepped through, the buzzer sounded-it was my cell phone. Security ran the metal-detecting wand over me, found the phone, checked it out to make sure it worked, and then handed it back to me.

By the time I proceeded into the large room, my apprehension had abated. Further distracting me were people I had never met before who walked up to me, shook my hand and asked if I'd take photos with them. They must have read my numerous articles about Islam, and I found myself in a friendly atmosphere without having any expectation of such a reception. The longer this reception continued, the less anxious I became. And seeing police inside the event gave me a greater sense of assurance.

The event was to run from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM., but at around 6 PM a burly police officer, fully decked out in tactical gear, took to the stage and announced that shots had been fired outside, a cop had been hit and was rushed to the hospital, and the assailants were down. The police wanted us to move to a new, safer room. We hadn't heard any shots, so this was news to most of us. As I stood looking around in shock, I couldn't help but notice that those who had appeared anxious before were now obviously revisiting those emotions, including myself.

I heard that the SWAT team, stationed at the Culwell Center for the event, responded to the shooting in seconds and secured the scene as the bomb squad began to investigate the vehicle used by the gunmen.

I felt somewhat as I had on 9/11 when rumors trampled sensibility and reality. "Twelve, maybe more, planes have been hijacked, and they could be headed here or there." We had no idea what would fall from the sky or where, and the sense of vulnerability was widely shared.

Finally, we were taken away from the convention center in buses to a safer and undisclosed location. As we waited, everyone was glued to his/her iPhones/iPads or other electronic devices in search of any news of the incident.  Later on, we were informed that we were unable to go to back our cars in the parking lot because of the possibility that explosive devices had been planted around the parking area or near our vehicles.

At the end of the night, we all provided a written statement of the incident to the FBI, and then they allowed us to go home one by one and return the next day to pick up our vehicles.

The Garland Police Department officers were all heroes, in my opinion. Heroes appear when circumstances call upon them. Heroes are those extraordinary people who make sacrifices and become agents of historical and social change. My hat goes off to all of them.

Violent Islam

What this Muslim terrorist attack underscores once more and for what seems to be the umpteenth time, nothing prompts the hundreds of ordinarily feuding and fighting sects of Islam to come together like the slightest disrespect shown to the founder of their religion or their religious sanctity. With the slightest hint from their vested-interest clergy and politicians, mobs of fanatical Muslims in countries around the world will pour into the streets with frenzy, burning, destroying buildings and killing people they suspect as complicit in defaming Islam, even if completely innocent.

The Garland terrorist attack highlights the question once again: In the name of "tolerance," should non-Muslims adopt intolerant laws that suffocate their freedoms in order to protect Muslim religious fanaticism and "sensibilities?" Would not Muslims need to do the same for Christians, Jews and adherents of all other religions, as well as freethinkers and atheists? I hardly need chronicle here all the vile things devotees of Islam have done and continue to do and say about the Jews, for example, both during the life of Muhammad and to this day.

Atrocities committed across the Muslim world by Muslims against other Muslims and faiths are legion. Egypt's Coptic Christians have been fleeing their ancestral home in droves, as have been Christians in Iraq. Mali's Ansar Dine, overrun by jihadist Muslims, is experiencing the destructions of Sufi temples and Christian churches. Bombing Christian churches and killing Christians in Nigeria is all in a day's work for people of the "religion of peace."

It stands to reason that the Muslims who feel so offended by the uncomplimentary portrayal of Islam and its prophet need to take a close look at their own individual as well as collective treatment of non-Muslims. Muslims do not have the right to engage in atrocities against others while demanding that no one in any form or shape offend their religious sensibilities.

Islamic forces are attacking freedom of speech, a right greatly cherished by a free people, with tremendous effectiveness.

Right now in this country, as well as other Western countries, individuals who dare to voice the truth about Islam, its barbaric sharia laws and savage practices are subjected to threats, harassment and ruinous lawsuits. Businesses and organizations with the slightest deviation from the Islamic dictates face boycotts and the loss of media advertising sponsors.

Along this line and among other such groups, the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas and its supporter the Council on American-Islamic Relations or "CAIR"-itself designated a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates-represent a clear and imminent danger to our country and our principles, which include the priceless freedoms of speech and belief. Islam does not recognize these sacred principles and despises them. Islam fights freedom of conscience, speech and expression with all its powers. Freedom of speech is just about non-existent wherever Islam rules, in fact. Freedom of belief and religion other than Islam is clearly rejected and often severely persecuted.

My advice to these pretenders of civility and devotees of respect: Please go to your country of origin and grant your own minority citizens respect and tolerance, before pressuring the world body to enact laws that criminalize "defamation" of Islam and its prophet. Firstly, Islam must end its age long-standing practice of defaming, imprisoning, and killing religious minorities to earn reciprocity from non-Muslim people. Indeed, respect must be earned, not terrorized into existence.

Unfortunately, terrorist attacks on events such as at Garland, Texas, only prove the points that Islam is incompatible with freedom and civilization, and that the religion's most fervent practitioners in fact are dangerous and anything but peaceful. In this regard, Geller and her group were proved absolutely correct in their efforts to alert the world to the perils represented by unchecked Islamization in America and elsewhere. In retrospect, I'm proud I attended such a watershed event, demonstrating what the free world is truly up against. Now, the only question is, will we wake up in time?

FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Amil Imani is an Iranian-American writer, poet, satirist, novelist, essayist, literary translator, public speaker and political analyst who has been writing and speaking out about the danger of radical Islam both in America and internationally. He has become a formidable voice in the United States against the danger of global jihad and Islamization of America. He maintains a website at www.amilimani.com. Imani is the author of the riveting book Obama Meets Ahmadinejad and the thriller Operation Persian Gulf.

Imani has been educating Americans regarding the danger of radical Islam, and has encouraged democracy for Iran and helping the Iranian people. His numerous articles about radical Islam have been published in many newspapers and magazines around the world as well as in thousands of Internet magazines, websites and blogs. Imani's writings can be found on his website Amilimani.com. He is a regular go-to-guy on the Iranian issues on BBC World News. He is also 2010 honoree of EMET: "the Speaker of the Truth Award" at the Capitol Hill.


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