By Kevin Shannahan
A Natchitoches native’s spontaneous act of support for a Dallas area mosque has become more than a leading viral hit on social media, it has become an international news story. Justin Normands’ holding up a sign of support outside the Islamic Center of Irving on the day after Thanksgiving has struck a chord throughout the world. He has been featured in each major network’s news show as well as every affiliate in the Dallas area. He has also appeared in news outlets in Europe and Al Jazeera. The New York Times was filming him and Gary after our interview.
Justin Normand had driven past the Islamic Center of Irving each day on the way to work, never giving it a second thought. He and his husband Gary Cathey were thinking about the recent Presidential election and were “not sure about how to move forward” and that “It was the right thing to do. It needed doing” according to Normand. He further stated that there “was a false narrative in society that the people in that mosque wanted to harm us.” and it was “patently unfair.”
He made the sign and went over to the mosque. It wasn’t his intention to become famous that day. In fact, he was holding the sign so the people in the mosque could see it, not the passing traffic. A passerby took a photograph of him and posted it on social media where it took off around the world in less than a week. For the first few days, no one knew who the man holding the sign was until Normand posted on social media that he was that person.
In the two days Justin Normand spent outside the mosque, a nurse coming in to worship brought him flowers and water and told him “You don’t know what this means to me and my friends.”