In an enthusiastic show of support, several thousand people linked arms Tuesday to cheer speakers and deter protesters at this year's Texas Muslim Day rally and lobbying event at the Capitol.
The response, coming from a largely non-Muslim crowd at a particularly poignant time for U.S. Muslims, delighted organizers.
"I am truly humbled and overwhelmed by your support. Thank you very much for being here," said Shaykh Mohamed-Umer Esmail of the Nueces Mosque in Austin, who added that the turnout supported his belief that "we will have more supporters than haters."
"In all the years we have been doing this, we have never seen a sea of supporters like we do today," said Alia Salem, executive director for the Fort Worth chapter of the event's lead organizer, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.