Texas library bans meetings of anti-Muslim group

ARLINGTON, Texas — A local chapter of a group focused on fighting "the assault of radical Islam" has been permanently barred from holding any more meetings at the Arlington Public Library.

The Grand Prairie chapter of ACT! for America had its meeting privileges revoked this month because the group broke two guidelines of the library’s meeting room usage policy, Arlington Library Director Cary Siegfried said.

The group, led by Dorrie O’Brien of Grand Prairie, had been meeting at the library since last year, Siegfried said. The Arlington Public Library offers its meeting room for free.

In an e-mail to Siegfried, O’Brien said the library was playing "into the hands of America’s enemies" and was just citing the rule violations as an excuse.

"I imagine there’s been a lot of pressure put on you to kick me out of the library by the people who want to stop me and others like me from getting the actual word out about Islam," O’Brien wrote.

Siegfried insisted that the content of the meetings had nothing to do with her decision.

"They didn’t follow the rules; that’s all there is to it," Siegfried said.

Siegfried said she warned ACT! for America this year after the library received a complaint that the group’s meetings were not fully open to the public and that group leaders were soliciting funds at the meeting, both violations of the library’s policy.

Abir Chatila, principal at Al-Hedayah Academy in Fort Worth, said she filed the complaint after O’Brien asked her where she was born and how she had heard about the meeting before ultimately allowing her to attend. Chatila said she wanted to attend the meeting because she was concerned that anti-Muslim rhetoric was being spread at the library.

"I was very upset by the fact that I had to justify who I was and where I was born to get into this meeting," Chatila said.

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