Since September 11th, 2001, the subject of terrorism has been a daily topic that all Americans have become familiar with. As the southern border of Texas is porous and it is known that those from countries known for terrorist activities are entering our nation and state through this route, legislators in the state of Texas need to have the knowledge and tools necessary to make decisions that are based on facts and not emotion.
In order to understand the threat and how it affects our state and communities, Representative Kyle Biedermann (R), HD 73, hosted an Islamic Terrorism and Homeland Security forum. Biedermann opened the event by explaining that the event was a “fact finding forum”. Approximately 100 citizens, press members, and legislators gathered in a Capitol committee room on January 26th to hear from a diverse panel experienced in living within the Muslim community, Sharia Law, and the culture in regards to women. Rep. Biedermann
moderated the forum and was accompanied by fellow Representatives Briscoe Cain (R) HD128, Mike Lang (R) HD 60, Tony Tinderholt (R) HD94, Jonathan Stickland (R) HD92, Bill Zedler (R) HD96, Valoree Swanson (R) HD150, Matt Schaefer (R) HD6, and Matt Rinaldi (R) HD115.
The panel of experts was comprised of Nonie Darwish – President & Founder of Former Muslims United, Mayor Beth Van Duyne – Mayor of Irving, TX, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser – President & Founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Chris Gaubatz – Vice President of Understanding the Threat, Kamal Saleem – Koone Ministries, and Karen Lugo – Attorney.
As each panelist gave their testimony, representatives asked clarifying questions to gain a better understanding of the expert’s experience or knowledge.
Even though the forum focused on a topic that has, in the past, been a subject of much controversy, the representatives emphasized a key theme: civil rights must be protected for everyone.
The first witness explained that she has Muslim family in Egypt and remarked that they are “some of the nicest people”, but that her goal was strictly to protect Muslim-Americans from radical Sharia. Mayor Beth Van Duyne echoed those sentiments as she was accused of discriminating against Muslims in Irving. However, she also emphasized that she was simply concerned with making sure that none of her constituents, especially Muslim women, were losing any of their constitutional rights.
Towards the end of the forum, Rep. Briscoe Cain made a clear statement that everyone ought to be kind and loving to anyone who visits the Capitol. With these principles in mind, the panel assessed the homeland security threat brought to the U.S. and Texas through organizations such as CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood, focusing specifically on radical organizations, not individual Muslim-Americans.
The Capitol will be hosting the Muslim Capitol Day on Tuesday, January 31. A rally will be held on the south steps from 10 am – 12 pm.
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