A police officer walks around the perimeter of the Curtis Culwell Centre on May 3, 2015, in Garland, Texas. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: A Muslim scholar has called on US authorities to take necessary measures to end prejudice and hate against Muslims, after two armed men were killed on Sunday evening in a shooting outside an exhibit for cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in suburban Dallas.

“Muslims have repeatedly condemned any violent act or any attempt at the lives of innocent people under any guise. We also condemn the incident in Texas and we support the investigation undertaken by the US authorities,” said Omur Orhun, a Muslim scholar and an adviser to the Organisation of Islamic countries (OIC).

“On the other hand, we also express deep regret as well as concern at convening of so-called art exhibitions featuring depictions of Prophet Mohammad [PBUH],” Orhun, a former representative on combating discrimination at the Organisation for security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), added in a statement to Gulf News.

“We urge the US authorities to take firm measures against manifestations of prejudice, intolerance and hate against Muslims. We also urge the public to remain calm,” he added.

On Sunday evening, two armed men shot at the security office outside Curtis Culwell Centre where a contest was hosted by American Freedom Defence Initiative (AFDI), which would award US $10,000 (Dh36,760) for the “best” cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), a statement by The City of Garland was quoted as saying by the press reports.

Depictions of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) are offensive to Muslims.

However, the statement didn’t say whether the shooting was related to the event organised by the New York-based group.

“Texas officials are actively investigating to determine the cause and scope of the senseless attack,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement issued late on Sunday.

As part of the investigations, FBI says agents searched an apartment in Arizona. FBI spokesman Perryn Collier on Monday confirmed the Phoenix residence was being searched for indications of what prompted the shooting on Sunday.

One of the gunmen, American media reports said, and a resident of the Phoenix apartment, was known to authorities and was the subject of an investigation.

According to an ABC report, “the man was convicted five years ago of lying to federal agents about plans to travel to Africa, in an apparent attempt to join a terror group there.”

The event featured speeches by Pamela Geller, president of the AFDI, and Geert Wilders, a Dutch lawmaker known for his outspoken criticism of Islam.

Geller she said on Sunday night that the shooting showed how “needed our event really was.”

Geller’s group is known for mounting a campaign against the building of an Islamic centre blocks from the World Trade Centre site and for buying advertising space in cities across the US criticising Islam.

When a Chicago-based non-profit held a January fund-raiser in Garland, designed to help Muslims combat negative depictions of their faith, Geller spearheaded about 1,000 picketers at the event. One chanted: “Go back to your own countries! We don’t want you here!” Others held signs with messages such as, “Insult those who behead others,” an apparent reference to recent beheadings by the militant group Daesh.

AFDI is run by controversial blogger and activist Pamela Geller and is listed as an anti-Muslim group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, a civil-rights group.

The 56-year-old describes herself online as a free-speech activist, but her critics denounce her as a “bigot”

— With additional inputs from agencies and news websites.