Texas mayor calls FBI, DHS over flag emblazoned with ‘love for all’ in Arabic

© Mike Blake
A black flag with a red heart and “love for all” in Arabic text was first seen hanging from an abandoned government building the morning after Valentine’s Day in Lubbock, Texas. The city then stopped traffic, called the feds, and opened an investigation.

Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson had City Manager James Loomis and Police Chief Greg Stevens notify the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and the Sheriff’s Office about the banner hanging, and the matter is now part of a local investigation into trespassing.

“It is premature to come to conclusions before we can gather more facts but I believe that we must take this situation seriously in light of current national and international events,” Robertson said in a public release.

Formerly known as the Omni Building and now called Citizens Tower, the neglected facility in the downtown area of Lubbock is known to be a target of trespassers and vandals, but the reaction stoked on Monday morning was unprecedented.

Lubbock Online reported “a portion of nearby Avenue K” was closed and that city crews took down the banner, which was held in place by cinder blocks, shortly after noon.

Mazen Sabouni, a Lubbock resident born in Syria, told KCBD that the phrase on the flag, “alhab lljamie,” is a common one for the Valentine’s holiday.

“Even though the message seems to be innocuous and well-meaning, that was not the best way to go about spreading the message,” Councilman Victor Hernandez told Lubbock Online.

The city’s residents had mixed reactions on Facebook.

You have to love Lubbock, Texas. A flag was hung on the Omni Building that says, "Love For All" in Arabic across a heart and everyone freaks out and calls the cops.

Posted by Grady Moore on Monday, February 15, 2016

"You have to love Lubbock," posted Grady Moore, who found the official response an overreaction: "everyone freaks out and calls the cops."

Mando Najera called for the flag to be burned and wrote the "only flag that should be waving is [sic] United States flag."

Burn that fuckin flag only flag that should be waving is United States flag

Posted by Mando Najera on Monday, February 15, 2016

Last June, CNN reported “an unnerving sight” over another “Arabic” flag at a London gay pride parade.

“If you look at the flag closely, it’s clearly not Arabic,” reporter Lucy Pawle said, describing what turned out to be a mockery of the Islamic State banner decorated in dildos to replace the Arabic words.

"Nobody seemed to be raising any questions or pointing it out," Pawle reported from the scene.