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Profile: Islamic Center of Amarillo
Islamic Center of Amarillo was a participant or observer in the following events:
A screenshot from a television interview with Jacob Isom. [Source: A Muslim Convert Once More (.com)]An Amarillo, Texas, evangelist, David Grisham, is thwarted in his attempt to burn a Koran by a skateboarding man who snatches the holy book from his hands before he can set it afire. Grisham, the director of Repent Amarillo, a local organization which stands against promiscuity, homosexuality, and non-Christian religions, is preparing to set a Koran afire on a grill in Sam Houston Park, perhaps impelled by a recent controversy over a Florida pastor’s plans to set a Koran afire (see September 9-10, 2010). Grisham stages his Koran-burning during a rally against Koran-burning organized by the Amarillo Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. He is arguing with others in the park who are asking him not to burn the book, when Jacob Isom, a 23-year-old restaurant cook, comes from behind him and snatches the Koran from his hand. Isom later tells a local reporter: “I snuck up behind him and took his Koran. He said something about burnin’ the Koran. I said, ‘Dude, you have no Koran,’ and ran off.” Reports state that Grisham’s Koran was soaked with kerosene. Isom gives the Koran to a religious leader from the Islamic Center of Amarillo. Isom says that Grisham is “just trying to start holy wars,” and Grisham retorts that he is merely exercising his right to free speech. Grisham eventually leaves the park, pursued by the jeers of the rally participants. “I kind of expected the reaction,” he tells a local reporter. Jeremy Danielson, a participant in the rally who carries a “Love Thy Enemy” sign, tells another reporter: “Any time you burn books, that’s ignorant. For us to burn their religion is showing hate.” Dennis Cobbins, an imam at the Islamic Center of Amarillo, says the amount of crowd support for him and his fellow Muslims was “a little bit overwhelming.” Amarillo “has zero tolerance for bigotry,” he says. [Amarillo Globe-News, 9/12/2010; Huffington Post, 9/12/2010; MSNBC, 9/13/2010; Midnight Politics, 9/16/2010] In the hours and days that follow, Isom becomes a “hero” on the Internet, according to the New York Daily News, with his statement, “Dude, you have no Koran!” becoming something of a catchphrase, sported on T-shirts and baseball caps. Several people create Facebook pages supporting Isom and his intervention. [New York Daily News, 9/13/2010] However, Isom will later say that he becomes the target of opprobrium as well. The Amarillo Globe-News publishes his home address, and one of its reporters will tell him that the Koran is a book preaching violence. Isom will tell an interviewer: “I’m an athiest, but I know the Bible is a book of peace. I mean, Jesus was all about peace. He’s one person… you could live your life just like him. And the Koran is about peace. But she interrupted me and said it was about violance and hate. And that’s just not true.” Isom says he has no interest in becoming famous. “It should all just be kept to yourself. Everything. Especially religion,” he says. “I’m just a hipster, not someone trying to be anything. I just want to be left alone. I never wanted this.” [Midnight Politics, 9/16/2010]
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