Opposing protests face-off outside Islamic Da’wah Center in downtown Houston

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HOUSTON, TX - With just Travis Street between them, two different groups of protesters lobbed verbal attacks against one another.

Here's the back story. The Islamic Da'wah Center was formerly the Houston National Bank Building. In 1994, Rockets legend Hakeem Olajuwon bought the building. In 2002, it was opened as a mosque and community center.  Late in April, the Library of Islamic Knowledge was added to the center's third floor.

On Saturday, a group called "Heart of Texas" organized a protest against the library.

"This is America," said Ken Reed, a protester who wouldn't identify as a member of "Heart of Texas," but came to support the rally. "We have the right to speak out and protest, and that's what we're doing. We feel that Texas, our great state, and the United States is being threatened by the influx of Islam."

In response, the "Houston Counter Rally Against Hate" group had their own demonstration.

"We're here to show the Muslim community that there are people of faith based and non-faith based philosophies standing in solidarity against racist bigots trying to intimidate them," said Ramon Mejia, the group's co-organizer.

Meanwhile, Da'wah Center executive director, Ameer Abuhalimeh said the center would not take sides, telling NewsFix, "The Islamic Da'wah Center position is that safety and security is paramount. Therefore, we do not support any hate rally or counter rally."

To learn more about the Islamic Da'wah Center, you can visit its website here.