Stand with the Prophet in Honor and Respect, an event that asks “Ready to defeat Islamophobia?” is coming to the Dallas area Curtis Culwell Center on Saturday, January 17, 2015, at 6pm. Until recently, few knew anything about this conference and now that many more do, residents are not just upset about the event and its speakers, they are upset that it is being held on the publicly-owned property of the Garland Independent School District (ISD) in a facility that was built and paid for with property taxpayer funded school bonds.
Stand with the Prophet is described in its promotional materials as “not an event. It is the beginning of a movement. A movement to defend Prophet Muhammad, his person, and his message.”
According to ACT! for America Houston, the conference is a fundraiser to establish aStrategic Communication Center for the Muslim community, which will “develop effective responses to anti-Islamic attacks, as well as to train young Muslims in media.”
Sound Vision Foundation, a Chicago-based non-profit organization which states itdevelops Islamic content and does public relations for Muslim concerns and causes is the conference producer.
A featured speaker is New York City Imam Siraj Wahhaj.
CBS-11 reported that “a letter from federal prosecutors to a judge in 1995 listed Wahhaj and nearly 200 others as ‘un-indicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators’ during the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.” They added that Wahhaj was never charged.
Terrorism expert Steven Emerson said Wahhaj made extremist, anti-American statements in the 1990’s, also according to CBS-11.
Emerson noted that Wahhaj and the founder of the group sponsoring the conference — Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid — have advocated for Sharia or Islamic law in the US.
A lawyer for Sound Vision said that statements Mujahid made about Sharia or Islamic Law were taken out of context, according to CBS-11.
Breitbart News reported Wahhaj was a “character witness for the “Blind Sheik,” Omar Abdel Rahman who was convicted in 1995 of plotting to blow up the World Trade Center and other New York City landmarks.
“I can’t support this conference being held here in Garland, Texas. The positions of these featured speakers are in contrast to our fundamental beliefs — but then again, perhaps they are part of the fundamental transformation of America,” blogged Allen West, the Lone Star State’s newest Texan.
Few may have known that Stand With The Prophet was coming to town because it wascalendared unassumingly as “Sound Vision Foundation, Inc.” on the Curtis Culwell Center site. News of the event came to many locally through an email that circulated around the country, offering an action-item complaint form to file with Garland ISD.
That was created by the Florida Family Association (FFA), a small non-profit committed to defending American values. According to its founder David Caton, they picked up the information from Creeping Sharia and The Clarion Project.
However, this will not be the the first time the Curtis Culwell Center housed Stand with the Prophet. It came to Garland ISD on February 1, 2014.
The problem for Garland residents is that Curtis Culwell Center is a Garland ISD owned property. The $30 million-plus multipurpose center, which features an arena and a conference center, was funded by the property taxpayers primarily through revenue bonds in 2002.
The control of the institution is listed as public, designed as a joint use facility that was designed for community functions.
Old promotional material quoted Keith Reimer, who was on the center’s former sales and marketing team as saying “Everyone who lives in the school district, which includes Garland, Rowlett, and Sachse, is a stakeholder in the center.”
The stakeholders were frustrated that they were not consulted.
Julie Borik of the Garland Tea Party told CBS-11 that the issue with the Islamic conference was that she did not want it to be held on an ISD property, on what she called “government property.”
Stand With the Prophet in Garland will be bookended by identical events in Dayton, Ohio and Houston, Texas, neither of which will be held on publicly purchased property or in a public school district-owned facility.
Garland ISD is the second-largest school district in Dallas County. The district-owned center is the site of graduations, concerts, performances, athletic competitions, tradeshows, corporate meetings, weddings, reunions, church services and other social and community gatherings, according to the website.
Although not related, this conference will follow the tragic Charlie Hebdo massacres that left 12 dead over the depiction of the Prophet Mohammad in the weekly satirical French magazine that also poked fun of other religions including Judaism and Catholicism.
Breitbart News called the slaughter “among the despicable crimes committed in the name of Islamic fundamentalism” and “an attack on free speech and freedom of expression.”
Ironically, one of the the questions Stand With the Prophet promotional materials asks potential attendees about their frustration with “Islamophobes” is “Remember the Danish cartoons defaming the Prophet?”
Garland Tea Party founder Katrina Pierson weighed in on the controversy. She toldBreitbart Texas, “In light if the Islamic driven terrorism and senseless murders worldwide, the residents have a right to protest the decision to host an event that with individuals who have expressed anti-American and anti-Christian belief systems in their own backyard particularly under the guise of “tolerance” of which Islam neither practices nor promotes.”
Act! for America Houston posted “It is truly disappointing that a Garland Independent School District property is hosting an event that is aimed at fighting against honest, God fearing Americans who have legitimate concerns about the Islamist movement in America.”
On Tuesday night, January 13, a handful of Garland residents got to voice concerns about the event at the monthly school district board meeting. Board president Rick Lambert pointed out that the Culwell center is available to rent and has been used by other religious groups for their events including Baptists, Mormons, Jews, Hindus and Catholics.
At the Culwell Center on Saturday, January 17, the date of the conference, severalgrassroots groups plan to congregate in peaceful gatherings to exercise their right to free speech in opposition of the event being held on public property, beginning at 3pm.
Breitbart Texas made numerous attempts to speak with Garland ISD spokesman Chris Moore during the week of January 5-9. He did not speak with us but told CBS-11 that the district received more than 100 calls and emails expressing concern, as of January 9.
Moore also said that the district was only leasing the space. He said, “The district is not hosting, endorsing, or promoting or discouraging for that matter the event.”He also toldFOX-4 that the district had to “remain non-discriminatory” when leasing the facility.
After Garland, the conference will go next to Houston’s Crowne Plaza Houston Northwest on Sunday, January 18.