Brandishing signs and shouting slogans, religious Christian protesters disrupted a Muslim rally on the steps of the Texas capitol on Thursday.
State Representative Molly White (R-Belton) did not attend but said she had left an Israeli flag on her reception desk and instructed her staff to ask Muslims visiting her office “to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws.”
She added, "We will see how long they stay in my office."
Several hundred Muslims came to Austin for "Texas Muslim Capitol Day," hosted by the Texas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, to learn about government and meet with lawmakers to discuss issues.
The council responded to White's post by sending a note to House Speaker Joe Straus asking if she violated the chamber’s rules by discriminating against religious minorities.
“Are House members prohibited from making constituents take oaths before meeting with their elected representatives or house staff?” the letter asks.
In a statement, Straus said only that all Capitol visitors should be treated respectfully, adding, “Anything else reflects poorly on the entire body and distracts from the very important work in front of us.”
White's post followed a similar message she sent on Facebook via Right Wing News about the Texas Muslim community creating a private court to dispense Shariah law.
"Remember, in the Koran, it is ok to lie for the purpose of advancing Islam," White wrote. "Texans must never allow fringe groups of people to come here so that they can advance their own culture instead of becoming an American and assimilating into the American way of life. That, I can assure is not the intent of most Muslims who move to America."
Her posts quickly drew fire on social media, according to Yahoo News.
"You can't seriously be this clueless," Fatima Ahmed wrote on Facebook. "Not very 'Christian' of you."
"Just like the extremist groups hiding under the Muslim label, it looks like we've got an extremist here hiding under the label of Christianity," Kelly Pfeiffer wrote.
White, an anti-abortion conservative, wrote back that she refused to apologize for her comments.
"If you love America, obey our laws and condemn Islamic terrorism then I embrace you as a fellow American. If not, then I do not."
Meanwhile, protesters held up signs with slogans such as "Go home and take Obama with you," "God bless America and Israel," "Save America, stop Islam," and "Radical Islam is the new Nazi."
As the Council on American-Islamic Relations opened the gathering on the Capitol steps, protester Christine Weick, who had been posing as a participant, grabbed the microphone.
Islam will never dominate in the United States,” the 50-year-old from Michigan said, “and by the grace of God it will not dominate Texas!”
The microphone was quickly wrestled back and a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper led her back to the crowd. But throughout the hourlong rally, about two-dozen protesters chanted things like, “No Sharia here,” ”One God,” and “Remember 9/11” while holding posters and flags.
Some 420,000 Muslims live in Texas, representing the eighth-largest Muslim population in the United States, according to the Texas Tribune.
Council Executive Director Mustafaa Carroll said the event began in 2003 and never drew opposition before, but that online threats prompted the council to contact the FBI. FBI spokeswoman Michelle Lee wouldn’t confirm or deny their involvement, and there was a noticeable DPS and law enforcement presence.
AP contributed to this report.
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