East Peoria man's yard cutouts are causing a controversy

By WEEK Producer

February 29, 2016 Updated Feb 29, 2016 at 10:14 PM CDT

EAST PEORIA, Ill. -- An East Peoria man's yard is at the center of a racial controversy on Monday.

And it's not because of the grass, but what's on it.

Everyone's talking about these silhouette cutouts at a home on Bloomington Road in East Peoria.

They show a hunter pointing a shotgun at a person wearing a turban, while surrendering.

The homeowner claims he's expressing his freedom of speech.

But others think it enforces a hateful stereotype.

The creator of these silhouettes said dozens of people stop to take pictures and show appreciation for his message.

He claims not one neighbor has complained about it.

But the local Muslim community is terrified of the hate this message could spread.

A lot of attention is coming to Dennis Murdy's front yard.

He said growing frustration toward the Muslim community prompted him to make a statement with silhouette cut-outs he sells.

"The Muslims and Islam is one of the most violent cults there is. It is not a religion. It's a cult. Their Qur'an says nothing but violence. You can see what Isis is doing. They are spreading across the country and this is biblical," Dennis Murdy commented.

Murdy doesn't think all Muslims are violent.

But he blames the peaceful ones for not stopping it.

He also thinks Muslims should not be welcomed in the country.

"That was intended to show my feelings on what's happening to our country and other parts of the country," Murdy continued.

The Islamic Foundation of Peoria is worried about what this message says.

"Free speech should not be mixed with hate speech. It's extremely important and we have to draw that line. If Islamophobia is going to be acceptable, by the same token, anti-semitism and racism would be acceptable. That is wrong," said Imam Kamil Mufti with the Islamic Foundation of Peoria

Imam Kamil Mufti said most Muslims in the area don't dress like the person depicted on Murdy's front yard.

He said it threatens Sikhs who do dress that way.

We asked Murdy if he thought it was a dangerous message to say all terrorists dress like this.

He responded with 'Everyone has their own opinion'.

The Islamic Foundation is holding a "Know Islam, Know Peace" event on March 7th at its Mosque on West Salaam Drive in Peoria.

City leaders and other religious groups will be there.

They invite Murdy to come and learn more about the Muslim religion.

Neighbors are split on the controversial cutouts.

Some don't agree with the images and are calling them racist.

They also claim traffic has increased on their street causing safety hazards.

Those against the cutouts would not go on camera.

Others were happy to see speech expressed freely.

"Everybody is always a freedom of this, freedom of that. He's using his freedom," said East Peoria resident Dalan Williams.

"I don't think it spreads a dangerous message. It's just a terrorist," said Springfield resident Mike Mohn.

Dennis Murdy said he doesn't plan to take the signs down anytime soon.

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