Update: The man identified himself as Justin Normand, 53. He owns a sign shop and made the sign himself. In a post on Facebook, Normand wrote:
This was about binding up the wounded. About showing compassion and empathy for the hurting and fearful among us. Or, in some Christian traditions, this was about washing my brother's feet. This was about my religion, not theirs. And, 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.
As reports of rampant Islamophobia continue to strike fear and anxiety in the hearts of Muslim Americans, one man recently went out of his way to deliver a message to his Muslim neighbors.
The photo, shared on Twitter by author and columnist Charles Finch, shows a man sporting a white cowboy hat, snowy beard, flannel shirt and jeans, holding up a sign that reads: "You Belong. Stay Strong. Be blessed. We are one America." His caption alleges the man was spotted outside a mosque in Texas.
Finch noted in another tweet that the mosque where this man was seen was the same one where armed protestors gathered outside of last year. One of the protestors, according to the Dallas News, had carried a sign that read "Stop the Islamization of America."
Finch's tweet has been shared more than 160,000 times at the time of writing. Many followers commended the man and said that he gave them hope. The photo was also posted on Reddit by user Kolmias on the same day.
In the wake of the election, Muslim women have had their headscarves ripped off their heads and Muslim Americans at large are reporting random Islamophobic attacks, including being called "terrorist." According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), four mosques in California and Georgia were sent threatening letters warning that president-elect Donald Trump will do to Muslims what Hitler "did to the Jews."
The photo of this man was a stark contrast to these incidents of Islamophobia and other hateful attacks on minorities and women in the past weeks, and served as a timely reminder of the fundamental values of the country, and of those helping to uphold them.