Texas imam wants free speech laws amended

Says criticism against 'spiritually high' people should be exempt

From Click2houston.com

By Joel Eisenbaum

The group that hosted the "Prophet Muhammad Cartoon Contest" that ended with the death of two suspected terrorists in Garland, Texas, has loyal followers in Houston, Channel 2 Investigates has learned.

But other Houstonians, including a Houston area Muslim imam, who condemned the Garland attack, but supports restrictions on free speech, believes incendiary language should be restricted by law.

"I think there needs to be a change to the law where people do not disrespect especially spiritually high people," Imam Mobasher Ahmed said.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative, AFDI, which collected more than $950,000 in donations in 2013, according to a public filing, did not disclose an exact number of members in the Houston area.

But Channel 2 Investigates has learned a handful of local members attended the Garland event.

"We are in a battle to stand for our First Amendment and to me that's a battle worth fighting," a Houston AFDI member, said.

That member, who wanted to be identified as Alexander, attended the cartoon contest event, along with approximately 250 others.?

"I think they were hoping to, possibly, as the crowd was streaming out, they could just wipe us all out," Alexander said.

None of the event's attendees were injured.

In a recent interview with Channel 2's Joel Eisenbaum, Alexander said he does not advocate violence.

The group, AFDI, was founded by Pamela Geller, a New Yorker, who is Jewish.

She has been labeled as anti-Muslim by some groups.

"There is a lot of ignorance about who Muslims are," Daisy Khan, with American Society for Muslim Advancement told CNN.

Geller's organization has been labeled an extremist hate group by multiple civil rights organizations, including the Anti Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

"We should be holding these types of events every month," Geller said in an interview with NBC News.

But Alexander appeared to be more moderate in his tone.

"Let's learn to talk in peace and have a conversation," Alexander said.?

When asked about attending the Garland contest, and how the event offended Muslims by depicting the Prophet Muhammad, Alexander responded that people have a right to be offended but not to respond to the offense with violence.

"I'm offended by the Playboy Channel so I don't subscribe to it," Alexander said.

(source)

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