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Gunmen open fire on guard at controversial Muhammad exhibit; Vatican newspaper weighs in

May 05, 2015

Two gunmen shot and wounded an unarmed security guard in Garland, Texas, as he stood near a controversial exhibit with artwork depicting Muhammad, the founder of Islam.

The gunmen were subsequently killed by local police. The Dallas Morning News reported that the men had attended a mosque in Phoenix and that one was the subject of an FBI investigation.

The Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest was sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative.

A front-page headline in L’Osservatore Romano decried the artwork as “blasphemous,” and the accompanying article stated that “ultraconservative European politicians” were expected at the exhibition, with its portrayals of the “prophet Muhammad.”

Speaking of the “need to approach the religious experience of the other” with a respectful attitude, the unsigned article criticized the exhibit’s “provocative intent, almost wanting to throw gasoline on the fire.”


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  • Posted by: brownjudith2930 - May. 06, 2015 11:41 PM ET USA

    This is uneven coverage for a Catholic news item. Both Robert Spenser and Pamela Geller have explained that this action is necessary to show that 'freedom of expression' is essential to a healthy democracy. If these Muslim extremists are allowed to intimate free speech and scare moderate Muslims from speaking up, the country will be controlled by violent 'thugs'. Osservatore Romano is in bed with anti-liberty mainline media.

  • Posted by: - May. 06, 2015 9:10 PM ET USA

    blasphemous?? Really. Is Mohammed now a Christian saint? Even if insulting, it should still be allowed. And even if blasphemous, it should not be met with violence. Should the violence not be condemned first? People are rushing to condemn the event and don't mention the violence. im just shocked - again - by the naïveté of the Vatican.

  • Posted by: jimr451 - May. 06, 2015 10:38 AM ET USA

    I wonder how the Vatican would react if the situation involved "blasphemous" christian artwork, and christian gunmen? Would the focus be on the "provactive intent" of the artists, or those committing the violent acts in response....? I'm not sure.

  • Posted by: FredC - May. 06, 2015 8:46 AM ET USA

    Although the exhibit was uncharitable, it was not blasphemous, any more than a condemnation of black magic would be blasphemous. Condemnation of the exhibit should be based on its lack of charity and should be from the U.S. bishops, not from the Vatican newspaper.

  • Posted by: filioque - May. 05, 2015 10:52 PM ET USA

    nothing to do with free speech, as the organizers of the exhibit claim. The government is not threatening to inhibit their speech. But the speech they want to make should be inhibited by societal norms and common sense. It has to do with civility and constructive conversation. The government properly stands back, but the rest of us should tell them to pipe down. They wanted to provoke and they succeeded, putting innocent people at risk.

  • Posted by: jacquebquique5708 - May. 05, 2015 1:17 PM ET USA

    I am conservative and all about free speech. However, I agree that this event was meant to provoke a response. The security guard appeared to be "the cheese in the mouse trap". The police appeared to be waiting.

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - May. 05, 2015 11:56 AM ET USA

    This initiative, while arguably morally ambiguous at best, lured and took 2 Isis terrorists off the US streets (partly at private expense). It will be controversial for a long time to come but that was an extraordinary day on Sunday.