Opposing Groups at Mosque Protest Find Common Ground, Have Lunch | NBC Connecticut

Opposing Groups at Mosque Protest Find Common Ground, Have Lunch

The two sides talked to one another at Halal Guys Restaurant

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    Two groups of opposing protesters at a North Texas mosque ended up banding together and even sharing a meal after a third protest group began insulting some of the other protesters.

    (Published Sunday, March 19, 2017)

    Two groups of opposing protesters at a North Texas mosque ended up banding together and even sharing a meal after a third group began insulting some of the demonstrators.

    The Bureau of American Islamic Relations had previously announced plans to stage a "Trump is Your President" protest outside the Islamic Association of North Texas on Abrams Road in Richardson.

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    Members and supporters of the mosque then planned a counter protest.

    But on Saturday, before the two opposing sides could voice their opinions with signs and words, a third group of protesters showed up and hijacked the event.

    The group of about 20 people called themselves the "Dallas Workers Front." They were dressed in all black, wore masks and many were armed with guns or pipes.

    They blocked members of BAIR from protesting, hurled insults and chanted, "No safe space for fascists." 

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    The comments prompted members of the mosque to step in and ask "Dallas Workers Front" members to back off and allow BAIR the freedom to exercise their right to free speech.

    "I believe they have the full right to protest," said Omair Siddiqi, a community activist and member of the mosque.

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    When that didn't work, the two opposing sides unexpectedly left the rowdy group behind and decided to share lunch together.

    The two sides talked to one another at Halal Guys Restaurant.

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    "I want what's best for this society," said one member of the mosque. "I don't want terrorists coming in here."

    Another told members of BAIR that a number of Islamic scholars across the country condemn ISIS and don't believe they're following the principles of Islam.

    "When these terrorists see this they hate it," said a Muslim man. "They despise that we get to sit together and we can have a conversation."

    Two hours later, the two sides found common ground and a common enemy.

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    "I've wanted to speak with them for two years now," David Wright of BAIR said. "It's just stuff I already knew, but now we're talking and there's a dialog."

    Siddiqi said what he wanted people to take away from the lunch is that "love will win and hate doesn't belong anywhere in any community."

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    "Their timing couldn't have been better in my opinion, I mean everybody wants to celebrate," said Kyle Steele, a customer at the drive-thru.

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    Both groups told NBC 5 they will now plan a march to protest together against ISIS.

    This is not the first time BAIR has demonstrated outside of the mosque.

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    A member told NBC 5 another demonstration was already in the works, but members will meet and discuss whether to move forward or cancel the protest.