On a recent afternoon, a man with two fake guns in his hand stood in the center of a Central Florida mosque, pointing the weapons at attendees, sprawled across the floor with their spouses and children.
“I’m shooting you, and I’m killing you,” Nezar Hamze, a law enforcement officer, told the crowd as he waved the plastic guns in all directions. “Everyone is just looking at what I’m doing, and I’m still shooting you.”
The scene, as part of an active shooter training at the mosque, was meant to shock the worshipers in attendance. At a time where threats and attacks against Muslim-Americans have hit an all-time high, Hamze said it’s important for Muslims in America to be aware of their vulnerability.
The next subject on his agenda: the rights that Muslim-Americans have to defend themselves and their property. Namely, the right to bear arms.
During a recent trip to the region, Fusion explored the complex issues of a community of Muslim-Americans which increasingly feels under threat, and which is coming to terms about its responsibility to protect itself.
Fusion’s Dan Lieberman follows two Syrian-American families through the process: One already owns several hobby firearms and the other is considering whether to buy a firearm for protection. They’re concerned about the negative public perception of an armed Muslim. But how far must hateful political rhetoric go, and how bad must threats against Muslims get, before they are willing to cross that line?