A dozen protesters — some carrying weapons — lined up outside a mosque in Irving, Texas on Saturday to call for an end to "the Islamization of America."
David Wright, a member of a group called the "Bureau of American Islamic Relations," said he organized the rally outside the Islamic Center of Irving in response to the recent terror attacks in Paris, the Dallas Morning News reports. Wright and his cohorts reportedly want to "block Syrian refugees from US shores, lest they replicate the attack here."
"We tried to talk to the mosque before we did this, but they wouldn't return our messages," Wright said. "So here we are."
Videos from the scene showed protesters marching outside of the mosque, including at least one man clad in black and carrying an assault rifle. Others wore masks and carried signs and American flags.
Wright reportedly claimed the weapons were for "self-protection," but added "we do want to show force. We're not sitting ducks."
The Irving Police Department monitored the demonstration from the mosque's parking lot. City Council member David Palmer was also present at the protest and condemned the act of intimidation.
"Does it look like there's any threat here? Nobody's even close to them," Palmer told the Morning News. "I doubt that they'd be happy if some of the Muslim churchgoers here showed up at their Christian church, their Baptist church, their Methodist church tomorrow morning with rifles slung over their shoulders."
The town of Irving made headlines in September when 14-year-old Muslim student Ahmed Mohamed brought a homemade clock to school was arrested on accusations of "constructing a bomb."
The San Antonio chapter of the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) also reported on Friday that a mosque is asking for increased security after a man trespassed and "cursed worshippers about their religion."
The incidents come amid a growing wave of xenophobia in the US, with much of the fear directed at Syrian refugees in the wake of the November 13 attacks in Paris. Though all of the Paris attackers identified thus far have been French or Belgian nationals, many Republican politicians, including several presidential candidates, have called for restrictions or a ban on allowing Syrians into the country.
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