IRVING – A photo of a man holding a sign saying “You belong” outside the Islamic Center of Irving has gone viral, with many praising his message of love in the face of growing Islamophobia.
The photo, originally posted to Reddit by user Kolmias, shows an unknown cowboy hat-wearing man holding a sign that reads: “You belong. Stay strong. Be blessed. We are one America,” News.Mic reported on Sunday, November 27.
Author and columnist Charles Finch shared the photo on Twitter. Within just under 36 hours, the tweet had been retweeted over 56,000 times and liked over 146,000 times.
The man stood at the Islamic Center of Irving where a group of armed protesters gathered last year in order to “Stop the Islamization of America,” according to the Dallas Morning News.
It is not known who the man is or what prompted him to share his message, but the positive message comes at a crucial time for American Muslims.
In 2015, the New York Times reported, officially reported hate crimes against Muslims surged to 257, a 67% increase from 2014.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that tracks extremist movements across the country, recorded over 700 “reports of hateful incidents of harassment around the country” in the week following Republican Donald Trump’s victory in the general election.
Two days ago, anonymously penned letters arriving at two California-area mosques threatened Trump will “cleanse” the country of Muslims and warned of violence against those who remained.