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Draw the Prophet event causes concern 

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In response to incidents including the Stand with the Prophet event that denounced Islamophobia, and the attack by three gunmen in Paris that ended in the death of 12 Charlie Hebdo employees, the American Freedom Defense Initiative will host a Draw the Prophet Contest. The event will be held Sunday, May 3 at the Curtis Culwell Center, also the site of the January Stand with the Prophet event.

All depictions of the prophet, satirical or otherwise, are insulting to Muslims and the May 3 contest offers $10,000 to the person whose drawing is voted the best. The drawings are cartoons and many are said to be offensive, violent and/or pornographic.

Keynote speakers include Dutch freedom fighter Geert Wilders, who Pamela Geller, AFDI president called “one of very few politicians on the international scene who dares to speak the truth about the jihadist threat,” along with Robert Spencer, a member of the AFDI.

According to the AFDI, it’s all about the protection of free speech. However, individuals who have spoken out against the event, say that it is all about hate.

Several speakers addressed Mayor Douglas Athas and the City Council at the April 21 meeting to express disapproval of the AFDI event and the contest.

Lee Lutz said that the drawings reflect hate and border on pornographic.

“This is not about free press, which I am a big supporter of but hate is hate. Is this what we want to teach our GISD children and our community? Is this the image we want in the national press…this conference is evil,” Lutz said. “It is not like the other conference which was simply a public relations conference.”

Dorothy Brooks said that she had seen some of the cartoons and that they were disparaging to the Islamic religion. She expressed concern over the event being held in Garland and in a Garland ISD facility.

“I don’t want any possible backlash, any stirring of religious hatred, any violence,” Brooks said.

She added that having this event in Garland makes us appear to be close-minded, vindictive and evil.

“Our school district failed to draw guidelines for the Culwell Center that are reasonable and that protect the real interests of Garland citizens in this case,” Brooks said. “The action of scheduling this contest is against all that we’ve tried to build in our city and school district and multi-ethnic committees and groups…”

A citizen who has several family members that served in the military commented that even though Geller may be spreading hate, her family members fought for her right to free speech. She added that she doesn’t agree with Geller’s viewpoint.

“But, if she wants to do it, the Constitution of these United States says that she has the right to do it,” the speaker said. “My brother died protecting that Constitution. My family has served honorably in our service protecting that Constitution, protecting your rights, protecting her rights, no matter what they thought of her.”