Two gunmen were shot dead by Police, on Sunday night, after they opened fire on a conference involving a “draw the prophet Mohammed” contest in Garland, a suburb of Dallas, Texas. Around 7.00 p.m., the two men drove to the Curtis Culwell Center and started shooting at one of the event’s security guards before being killed by police. The first man was shot right away and the second one was wounded and finally shot dead after he reached for his backpack. The security officer was shot in the ankle and rushed to the hospital but has since been released. The 200 attendees at the event and people in the nearby buildings were evacuated, out of precaution, shortly after and the bomb squad was called in to examine the vehicles but no explosives were found.

The identities of the two gunmen have not been released but minutes before the attack a Twitter account with the username “Shariah is Light” posted a message saying “may Allah accept us as mujahideen” with the hashtag #texasttack. The account has been suspended but several Islamic State-related Twitter accounts have posted messages supporting the attack and the perpetrators.

The event, entitled ‘Jihadi Watch’, was organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), run by activist and blogger Pamela Geller. The AFDI has been listed as an anti-Muslim group by several civil rights movements and has caused controversy recently after buying several advertising spaces on buses across the United States to criticise Islam. The conference included a prophet Mohammed Art Exhibit with a contest that offered $10,000 to the best prophet Mohammed caricature. The key-note speaker was Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders, known for his outspoken criticism of Islam in Western societies. In a statement to the media, Wilders said the incident was “an attack on freedom of expression” and criticised Western societies for “being afraid of offending Islam” and the American Freedom Defense Initiative (ADFI) called it “a war on free speech”. 

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