Thousands of protesters and counter-protesters held American flags and signs outside of a Muslim conference in Garland, Texas, on Saturday night.
"We're here to stand up for the American way of life from a faction of people who are trying to destroy us," a man protesting the conference said.
The demonstrations began hours before the start of the program at the Curtis Culwell Center, which is operated by the Garland Independent School District.
The conference is titled, “Stand With the Prophet Against Terror and Hate” and bills itself as a fundraiser to build a center dedicated to teaching Muslims how to combat negative depictions of their faith.
"They want for people to see that we are kind, peaceful people," a Muslim woman at the conference said. "We're not here to fight, we're not here to argue. We're just here to show that we're Americans too."
Because of safety and protest concerns, the organizers asked for extra security.
“This is one of several cultural and religious-based groups and events that we have there at the center,” Chris Moore, Garland ISD spokesman told NBC DFW on Friday. “And we’re going to keep that open to them. This is a nondiscriminatory facility.”
The conference and protests come a little over a week after Islamic militants stormed the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people, including the magazine's top editor.