Photo of Texas Man Holding ‘You Belong’ Sign Outside Mosque Goes Viral
A 53-year-old Texas man is being praised after pictures of him holding a sign stating "You Belong" outside the Islamic Center of Irving went viral on Facebook.
Justin Normand of Dallas was photographed outside the Islamic center over the weekend with a sign that read,
"You belong. Stay strong. Be blessed. We are one America."
Normand came forward on Monday, identifying himself as the sign holder on Facebook and explaining why he felt the need to do it,
It wasn’t about demonstrating my outrage to right-wing drivers driving down Esters Road in front of the mosque. I can never, and will never, change any of the haters. It’s not about them. Not this time, and not here. This was about binding up the wounded. About showing compassion and empathy for the hurting and fearful among us. Or, in some Christian traditions, this was about washing my brother’s feet. This was about my religion, not theirs.
Normand, who identifies himself as Presbyterian, said he did this to protect the American way of life for all religions. And while he doesn't normally wear a cowboy hat, he did so to symbolize a part of Texas that the Islamic community should hear from.
Nick Pelletier, director of outreach for the Islamic Center of Irving, noticed Normand across the street and approached him after a prayer session. Recording his encounter with Normand, Pelletier said,
You know, there's always going to be good people who are going to defend Islam, even though they themselves may not be Muslims.
Normand closed out his Facebook post quoting the inscription on the Statue of Liberty and its relevance in today's xenophobic society,
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
These words bespeak the America we all remember, know, love, and are still called upon to be. Especially now. Lastly, it worked. I felt better for the impact it had on my neighbors. They genuinely needed this encouragement. They need us. They need all of us. They need you. We ARE one America.
Since coming forward on Facebook, Normand's post has been liked over 45,000 times and shared over 26,000 times.