Thousands of protesters reportedly demonstrated outside of a Muslim conference in Texas Saturday night where an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was scheduled to speak.
The “Stand With the Prophet in Honor and Respect” conference, hosted at the Curtis Culwell Center, in Garland, billed itself as a fundraiser to build a center dedicated to training Muslims in media and teaching them how to combat Islamophobia.
“This is not an event. It is the beginning of a movement. A movement to defend Prophet Muhammad, his person, and his message,” the event website says.
Imam Siraj Wahhaj, who was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was the keynote speaker at the event.
A Muslim woman at the conference told a local NBC affiliate: “We’re not here to fight, we’re not here to argue. We’re just here to show that we’re Americans too.”
A man protesting the conference said, “We’re here to stand up for the American way of life from a faction of people who are trying to destroy us.”
The Garland Independent School District faced criticism for allowing the Curtis Culwell Center to be used for the event, which came a little more than a week after armed terrorists gunned down 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo offices after the French magazine printed satirical cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.
“This is one of several cultural and religious-based groups and events that we have there at the center,” school district spokesman Chris Moore told the NBC affiliate. “And we’re going to keep that open to them. This is a non-discriminatory facility.”