Two dead after Mo artist wins top prize
Shortly after the winning entry (above) in a Mohammed cartoon contest was announced in Texas yesterday, two gunmen were shot dead after opening fire at a security officer guarding the event.
According to this report, police said the suspects were killed outside the Curtis Culwell Centre in Garland, north of Dallas, which was hosting an art show of drawings of the Prophet.
The winner of the contest was artist Bosh Fawstin, above left. He was pictured being presented with a cheque for $12,500 by Dutch politician Geert Wilders and Pamela Geller shortly before the attack.
The event was billed as a “free speech event” by its sponsor, the American Freedom Defence Initiative, which has been criticised by opponents for being anti-Islam.
Geert Wilders, the far-right populist Dutch politician who had been invited as a guest speaker, had just finished giving a talk to the 150 or so people gathered when the shots were fired at around 7 pm local time.
The two heavily armed suspects drove up to the front of the building in a car as the event was coming to an end, and began shooting at a security officer, the city said in a message posted online.
Johnny Roby, from Oklahoma, was attending the conference said he was outside the building when he heard around about 20 shots that appeared to be coming from the direction of a car passing by. He then heard a pause followeed by two more shots.
The security officer, identified as 57-year-old Bruce Joiner, was injured after being shot in the leg during the firefight. He was taken to hospital for treatment and released after several hours.
I am shocked. I just spoke for half an hour about the cartoons, Islam and freedom of speech and I had just left the premises.
Police said they had not immediately determined the identity of the two gunmen or whether they were linked to critics of the event
Just before the shooting, a Twitter account using the name “Sharia is Light” posted about an impending attack on Texas, tweeting:
May Allah accept us as mujahideen [holy warriors]
The contest drew about 350 entries depicting the “prophet”.
In January, 12 people were killed by gunmen in an attack against the Paris office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had lampooned Islam and other religions and used depictions of Mohammed.
Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defence Initiative (AFDI), said that she planned the Sunday event to make a stand for free speech in response to the outcries and violence over drawings of Mo.
Geller, who has declared herself a supporter of the English Defence League and has been banned from entering the UK, said the shooting showed how “needed our event really was” and called it a “war on free speech”. She wrote on her website:
What are we going to do? Are we going to surrender to these monsters?. The war is here.
She added that she was already planning several more events.
AFDI is known for mounting a campaign against the building of an Islamic centre blocks from the World Trade Centre site and for buying advertising space in cities across the US criticising Islam.
The event was allowed to go ahead despite criticism from residents and local Muslims, who expressed concern it was a risk to public safety.
The group spent $10,000 on 40 additional security officers.
Hat tip: Leo Igwe and BarrieJohn