The list was copy-pasted from an Irving city document containing the personal information of people who signed up to speak against a state bill targeting the influence of Islam in America, according to the Morning News.
Wright was identified by the newspaper as the spokesman for the Bureau of American Islamic Relations (BAIR) — a play on the name of a leading Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Last weekend, several members of the group — including Wright — protested in front of the Islamic Center of Irving, a mosque in the Dallas suburb where a ninth-grader was arrested for bringing to school what some thought looked like a homemade bomb but was actually a homemade clock.
As The Washington Post’s Justin Moyer wrote of the protesters: “They had guns. They had a flag. They had a Ted Cruz sign and one that read ‘Stop the Islamization of America.'”
“It’s a boiling pot,” one man told the local Fox affiliate. “The kettle … the top on this kettle is on really, really tight, and it is going to blow.”
On his personal Facebook page, Wright wrote this week: “We should stop being afraid to be who we are! We like to have guns designed to kill people that pose a threat in a very efficient manner.”
He added: “My gun is an assault weapon, it is for the sole purpose of assaulting anyone who tries to hurt or kill me or mine. Why is that wrong? How is that bad? Its a weapon designed to assault people not animals so… I can’t think of any other way to explain it.”
The members of the armed group that gathered outside the mosque said they were moved to protest after the Paris attacks, the Dallas Morning News noted in an editorial slamming the move.
“AR-15s at a place of worship? That is out of bounds, and it shows how very close we are to chaos,” the editorial reads.
This is far from Irving’s first Islam-related controversy. The city earned international attention in September when 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed was arrested for his homemade clock that was mistaken for a bomb. The teenager subsequently received support from President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google, among others, and his family is now seeking $15 million from the city.
Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne also attracted the national spotlight this year, when she railed against what she described as a “Sharia Law Court” in her city. Critics say Van Duyne blew out of proportion a voluntary and non-binding dispute mediation service.
“Similar religious tribunals have existed for decades in the American Jewish and American Christian faith communities to resolve disputes, most especially within families,” the Islamic Center of Irving said in a statement at the time.
Van Duyne subsequently encouraged the Irving City Council to endorse a state bill that critics said unfairly targeted Muslims. The names and addresses published this week belonged to individuals who signed up to speak against that bill at a city council meeting in March.
“This is the first time I’ve been slightly alarmed,” Alia Salem, executive director of CAIR’s Dallas/Fort Worth branch, told the Dallas Morning News after the list was published. “As bad as things have gotten in the past, and especially recently, this is the first time where I see people taking this public.”
Referring to those who spoke at the city council meeting, Salem said: “This is my job to deal with this kind of stuff. But for an everyday citizen who was just exerting their First Amendment rights and their right as an American to speak up and speak out, they were just being good citizens to show up and be a part of the democratic process. Now they are targets.”