A North Texas man is getting a lot of attention for trying to promote peace with a sign outside the Islamic Center of Irving.
The photo of Justin Normand and his sign went viral after it was posted on Twitter over the weekend. It’s been retweeted more than 63,000 times and shared on other social media platforms.
Norman’s sign read, “You belong. Stay strong. Be blessed. We are America!”
Normand said he’s been in a little bit of a funk since the outcome of the presidential election. He felt the nation is harshly divided, especially over the treatment of Muslim Americans. So rather than wallow in self-pity, Normand — who manages a sign shop — decided to do something about it. His small gesture to the Muslim community quickly took off.
“My religion tells me I am to treat other people how I want to be treated,” he said.
Normand, who is Presbyterian, says he’s bothered by the way some Americans are treating minority groups since the presidential election.
“Neither I nor you nor anybody else is in a position to decide who is a real American and who is not,” he said.
Normand says he had no idea someone driving by took his picture. He considers himself a private person and says he didn’t even tell his husband about his impromptu mission.
“He just asked, ‘God, what I can do to be positive?’ And this is what he sought to do,” Normand’s husband said. “He did this simple thing.”
Imam Yaser Birjas is glad Normand did.
“I was surprised really to be honest with you when I saw that,” Birjas admitted.
Normand hopes the hype will inspire other people to do what they can to bring people together.
“There are a majority of good and decent people who want to speak about their neighbors in terms of peace, respect and dignity because we all want to be afforded the same respect and dignity and peace,” he said.
Normand says his heart is full by all of the positive feedback he’s gotten online and in person.
The Imam at the Valley Ranch Islamic Center invited him back to have dinner with his new friends when the cameras aren’t rolling.