Justin Normand’s “You Belong” sign in support of Muslims has gone viral after the Dallas man displayed the message outside a Texas mosque.
A photo of Normand, 53, with his thick white beard, cowboy hat and large sign, was shared across social media after he posted a picture of himself standing outside the Islamic Center of Irving near Dallas last week, according to The Washington Post.
“You Belong. Stay Strong,” Normand’s sign read. “Be Blessed. We Are One America.”
Normand told the Post that when he went to the mosque on Friday and then for a short time over the weekend, his intention was to express support for his Muslim neighbors, but he didn't know that his picture, which was posted on Reddit and Twitter, would go viral.
“It is the message — not me — that is transcendent,” Normand said, according to The Post. “I just spoke what is on a lot of people’s minds.”
“For me, this wasn’t about expressing agreement; I remain Presbyterian, not Muslim,” he said, according to WFAA-TV.
He added that his choice to visit the mosque wasn’t about showing “outrage to right-wing drivers,” WFAA-TV noted.
“This was about binding up the wounded,” he added. “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.”
The mosque was occupied by “armed, Islamophobic protests” last year, according to Carbonated TV. Protesters walked around with guns and rifles while holding American flags and banners that read “Solution to Islamic terrorism.”
According to WFAA-TV, Normand manages a sign shop and has wanted to offer his support of Muslims in this way for some time now.
Normand’s picture received nearly 14,000 shares on Facebook and almost 50,000 likes.
“Lastly, it worked. I felt better for the impact it had on my neighbors,” his Facebook post read. “They genuinely needed this encouragement. They need us. They need all of us. They need you.”
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