Yesterday, two men identified as Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, reportedly fired shots in Garland, Texas at a controversial cartoon contest showcasing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

“The actions of these two men denigrate the Prophet Muhammad more than any cartoon ever could,” said Salam Al-Marayati, MPAC President.  “The bullets used by the assailants were bullets against our faith.”

The North Texas Muslim community expressed concern in advance of the “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest.” Texas Muslim leaders urged their community to ignore the hateful event and to show restraint against any kind of provocation. “As a Muslim community, we need to acknowledge hate groups and not get baited,” said Imam Zia ul-Haque Sheikh of the Islamic Center of Irving.

This event was clearly intended to offend and incite. Muslims, like people of all faiths, believe in responding to hate speech with reasoned words. The perpetrators of this shooting violated the principles of Islam by reacting to offensive caricatures of Prophet Muhammad with far worse actions – the intent to kill. Countering the hate of the organizers and attendees of the event with violence is reprehensible. There are numerous instances in the life of Prophet Muhammad where he continuously responded to insults and hatred with mercy and forgiveness, and sometimes just plain silence.

Insults against the Prophet are documented in the Quran, in which there is no mention of any punishment for defaming him. Instead, God mandates that we repel corruption with goodness: “Nor can goodness and evil be equal. Repel (evil) with what is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity (will become) as though he was a devoted friend.” (41:34)

Founded in 1988, the Muslim Public Affairs Council improves public understanding and policies that impact American Muslims by engaging our government, media and communities.

[CONTACT: Riham Osman, Communications Coordinator, 202-547-7701,]

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