DALLAS – In the last five years, more refugees, including 243 Syrians, have settled in Texas than any other state, according to the U.S. State Department. But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wants to bar further Syrian relocations over security concerns stemming from the deadly attacks in Paris last month, and Texas filed suit Wednesday to try to stop them. While many refugees say they've received a warm welcome in Texas, several incidents this year suggest growing anti-Muslim and anti-Syrian sentiment. Here is a timeline of those events:
Chicago-based Sound Vision Foundation held an event in the Dallas suburb of Garland called "Stand with the Prophet in Honor and Respect" to combat negative perceptions of Islam. Pamela Geller, an outspoken critic of Islam and a co-founder of American Freedom Defense Initiative, protested and later booked a "Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest" for the same site in May. Elsewhere, about a dozen hecklers disrupted hundreds of Muslims gathered for a biennial lobbying day at the Texas Capitol, the first time that event had drawn protesters.
Several bills were proposed in the Legislature that Muslims said targeted their faith. One, by state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, sought to bar judges from using foreign law in their rulings. The bill did not directly mention a religion. But Leach had reportedly singled out an Islamic tribunal, formed months earlier by religious elders in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to mediate faith-based disputes, as a "problem" his bill would address.
The City Council in Irving, one of Dallas' biggest suburbs, voted to endorse Leach's bill despite opposition from more than 50 people, including Muslim residents. Mayor Beth Van Duyne's Facebook remarks about the tribunal, which repeated rumors of a Shariah court based at an Irving mosque, drew complaints of Islamophobia.
Two Muslim men from Arizona were killed in Garland after opening fire outside Geller's "Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest." Physical depictions of Muhammad, even respectful ones, are considered blasphemous under mainstream Islamic tradition. Whether a terror group was behind the men's attack was unclear. One of the slain gunmen had been convicted of making false statements during a 2010 terrorism-related investigation and was under federal scrutiny for online posts expressing interest in jihad.
The Facebook account for Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller shared a photo that appeared to call for bombing the "Muslim world." A spokesman later said Miller did not personally post the photo, but he refused to apologize.
A high school freshman in Irving, Ahmed Mohamed, was arrested and suspended after teachers and administrators feared the homemade digital clock he brought to campus was a bomb. The incident went viral, bringing the boy a White House invite from President Barack Obama and the city renewed complaints of Islamophobia.
A half-dozen armed protesters with anti-Islam signs, such as "Muhammad was a pedophile," protested outside a Richardson mosque where a nondenominational group had gathered in support of Muslims.
After the deadly Paris attacks, Gov. Greg Abbott joined more than two dozen state governors in seeking to bar more Syrian refugees from entering Texas. Vandalism was reported at mosques or Islamic centers in Lubbock and in Pflugerville, near Austin. In addition, an armed group protested outside an Irving mosque.
Staff writer Jamie Stengle contributed to this report.