• Texas business owner Justin Normand is standing by his Muslim neighbours (Facebook/Justin Normand)Source: Facebook/Justin Normand
"Targeting people for their religion not only threatens our way of life, it is the polar opposite of our way of life."
Bianca Soldani

1 Dec 2016 - 3:09 PM  UPDATED 1 Dec 2016 - 3:09 PM

“You belong. Stay strong. Be blessed,” reads a sign held up by a man wearing a ten gallon hat.

He’s standing outside a mosque in the US state of Texas and wants worshipers to know he stands by them, despite not sharing their faith.

An image of the man, local resident and small business owner Justin Normand, recently went viral on social media after a passerby posted it on Twitter, but Mr Normand maintains his gesture was simply “about showing compassion and empathy for the hurting and fearful among us”.

Since Donald Trump’s election victory last month, Mr Normand says he’s been feeling keenly for his Islamic neighbours who have been targeted by both the President-Elect’s rhetoric and his followers.

“It was about what I think I must do as an American when our way of life is threatened. Targeting people for their religion not only threatens our way of life, it is the polar opposite of our way of life,” he explains in a lengthy Facebook post.

“My own religious tradition ascribes these words to my deity: ‘I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in’.”

He goes on to encourage people to make physical gestures of solidarity rather than online ones and says he was overwhelmed and humbled by the thanks he received from the people coming in and out of the mosque.

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