WASHINGTON (RNS) American Muslim leaders said they stand against terrorism committed in the name of Islam, trying to distance themselves from the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings who were identified as Muslims with ties to Chechnya.

Imam Muhammad Magid of the Islamic Society of North America said Muslim Americans should not be held responsible for the acts of other militant Muslims. RNS photo by Kevin Eckstrom.

Imam Muhammad Magid of the Islamic Society of North America said Muslim Americans should not be held responsible for the acts of other militant Muslims. RNS photo by Kevin Eckstrom.


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“We will never allow ourselves to be hijacked by this attempt, and we will not allow the perception to be that there is any religion in the world that condones the taking of innocent life,” said Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

As the manhunt intensified in and around Boston, Muslim leaders convened a press conference Friday (April 19) to denounce the attacks and to urge the media not to link their faith with violent extremism.

Authorities say brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, planted the bombs at the Boston Marathon on Monday before going on a deadly rampage across the city in the early hours of Friday morning. The older Tsarnaev was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police while his younger brother fled.

Officials say the Tsarnaev family is originally from Chechnya, a restive region whose civil war with Russia has spawned waves of extremists. It remains unclear, however, whether the Tsarnaev brothers identified as militants for Islam.

Imam Benjamin Abdul-Haqq of Washington’s Masjid Muhammad mosque, said identifying as a Muslim is different from acting like one.

“Just because they say they’re Muslim doesn’t make them Muslim,” Abdul-Haqq said at the press conference convened by CAIR and other leading Muslim groups. “These are criminal acts, not religious acts.”

American Muslim leaders have gone to great lengths to stress that their religion does not condone violence and that terrorist acts committed in the name of Islam contradict the faith. Muslim groups appealed to Americans not to rush to judgment and not to lash out at innocent people.

“Every faith has within it heretical elements, and unfortunately some young people will listen to those elements,” said CAIR spokesman Corey Saylor. “What you’re looking at now is a force that is pushing back against that loudly and clearly.”

The Muslim leaders from CAIR, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Islamic Society of North America and other groups expressed frustration that they are once again being forced to defend their faith against the actions of extremists.

“As a Muslim American community, we should not be held accountable for the acts of any individual,” said Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America.

23 Comments

  1. It’s been said a zillion times that “not all muslims are terrorists, but it seems all terrorists are muslim”. The regular muzzies are tarred by the same feather sadly, perhaps it’s just another reason to give the nonsense away.

  2. It is hardly wise, SOUTHERN BAPTIST, to insult the religions of others, like Catholicism, Hindus, Buddhists, and Jews. We are ALL infidels according to Islamic tradition. If it weren’t for some of the medieval popes, you, SOUTHERN BAPTIST, would be on a prayer rug, if you existed.

    I suggest that you read “The Case for the Crusades,” by Rodney Stark. Also, let’s remember the Cotton Mather’s and the Puritan witch hunts.

    • We hear about the Puritan witch hunts, but forget that the witch hunts in mostly Roman Catholic Bavaria were much more widespread. I finished college after my tour with the USArmy. In one history course I remember reading about the witch trials in Bamburg–the same city where I had been stationed–even today Bamburg has twenty-some Catholic churches and two Lutheran churches.
      The only reason Catholics were not involved in the colonial American witch trials is that there weren’t enough of them around to be involved.

  3. Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    It is sometimes stupid the way some people just lump all religions together as if they were all alike.
    Religious people tend to mimic the behaviour of their leaders. Jesus gave his life on the cross as an example of love for others (whether you believe in the theology behind his sacrifice, his example stands.)
    But one of Mohammed’s early acts as the leader of his religion was to personally order the slaughter of a tribe of Jews. Wisely anyone thinking should ask if such a murderous founding act for a religion could create a violent streak in that religion. ( A streak that seems to have gone on for its whole history from the very start as it repeatedly conquered Christian areas by blood and sword until in the Crusades Christians finally fought back).
    On the other hand, if all religion can be willy-nilly lumped together, why not all political movements lumped together. Would any dare argue that there is no difference between Jeffersonian democracy and Stalinist Communism??

  4. I don’t care much about all these articles, criticism and or anatomization because Islam is a peaceful religion completes the three Holy Faiths books “Judaism – Christianity – Islam” a religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness. Therefore, Sir in the picture; stand with your head up high with honor not with this shameful pose, you are standing beside the most powerful flag/country in the world that believes in justice, freedom and human rights.

  5. Wicked Muzzie

    It’s sad that Islam (a religion of peace) gets this rap. Sure it’s because you hear “Islamic Extremest” all the time. I wish that you would hear the faith of every other criminal that is not Muslim. You don’t hear “Christian extremist”, or “Jewish Extremist”…probably because the media that supports Israel does not find it appropriate to do so.

    Mel Gibson learned this the hard way after trying to make a movie that showed what Jesus went through. The Jews were not amused.

    • rebecca olesen

      What stupid idiot believes we don’t hear ‘christian extremist’ all the time in the Media, including accusations trying to connect Timothy McVeigh to christian extremism, which is a complete lie.

      The reason you don’t HEAR it, is because they are not chopping off heads of young American soldiers and saying they ‘did it for christianity’, they are not having christian RIOTS all over Europe – burning cars, schools, daycares, throwing rocks at police and firefighters, viciously beating nonchristians to death, disability, broken bones, etc., and permeating waves of rape now so pandemic, women can’t even go into a restaurant bathroom without being assault and even the incidence of ‘male rape’ has increased 500% in 4 years.

      So called ‘christian countries’ don’t have protests and riots with 100′s of thousands is insane screaming men committing arson and violence against their own people and trying to kill all ‘non muslim immigrants’ they can find.

      Oh yeah, we’re SO mean to say islam is causing us problems and we’re sick of it, because muslim countries are all so open and free, christians are being slaughtered in the thousands every single day and they both love and accept mass immigration of all races into their lands, RIGHT?

      You better get your priorities straight, you can continue to lie and help destroy the free world, you can go ‘home’ and that means somewhere everybody wants islam, or you watch the world descend into chaos and violence.

  6. South Shore Massachusetts

    Written Apr 22, 2013 at 2:06 pm:

    I’m wondering where this press conference was held. I have not heard of this up until now in the Boston Media coverage. This is extremely important information to get out to the city of Boston and surrounding communities. Since Saturday morning April 20, religious tensions have bubbled up here, and people need to be reminded that in Cardinal O’Malley’s words we should be a people “of reconciliation, not revenge,” and that the Tsarnaevs’ alleged crimes should not be justification for prejudice against Muslims and immigrants.

    I am 15 minutes south of Boston. Since Saturday morning, I have been involved in a local discussion and am trying my best to remind everyone that this country was founded on the belief of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, Freedom of Speech, and Freedom of Religion of ALL people.

    On Saturday at 11 a.m., I wrote a letter to the American Islamic Congress, whose Civil Outreach Director is Nasser Weddady, who participated in the Interfaith Service with the President on Thursday.
    “To the American Islamic Congress:
    Boston critically needs to hear from the AIC at this time of need. I implore the AIC to make a public statement for the sake of unity and peace.
    On April 16th the AIC offered condolences to the families affected by the bombing. At the time, though, there were no suspects.
    On April 18th, I was very impressed with Nasser Weddady, your Civil Outreach Director,l when he spoke at the service on Thursday, April 18th at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Currently there is a local online discussion that needs your input. I live very close an Islamic Center. For the sake of my Muslim friends in the area, the AIC should not remain silent.
    Silence only allows others to continue to hijack your religion and use it as a scapegoat. I understand that not judging others may be part of your religious / cultural tradition, but how can you maintain a clear conscience if you do not come forward, educate the public about moderate Islam and the efforts of your organization to spread love, peace and friendship, and most importantly, condemn all acts of terrorism by those who make false claims of believing.
    Stand up and others in the interfaith community in Boston will stand with you.
    Peace and prayers to you all.”

    What I do not understand is why I have not yet received a response from the AIC and how neither they nor the New England Interfaith Council have reported any news since the interfaith service on Thursday, when the identity of the bombers had not yet been released. In my opinion, Mr. Nasser S. Weddady has let the all of the people of the city of Boston down (the Muslim community included) by being silent since the service on Thursday.

    I am reassured that CAIR has had a clear statement on Condamnation of Terrorism for quite some time. Their statement is Truly Impressive!
    I wish I had found your website and that of the Council of American-Islamic Relations sooner. Up to now, I had no idea how intense and involved the social/cultural after-math of something like this could be. I had no idea of who to contact and go to for support.

    One thing I am currently wrestling with is, why it is so difficult to get good information about the Muslim community into the Boston Media? Just one thing I am unclear about, could you clarify for me… Does CAIR represent the AIC or the Islamic Centers in Boston, if so which ones? If CAIR represents the AIC, why haven’t articles pointed this out? Trying to navigate between all these associations, centers and mosques is confusing…

    I am truly sorry if American Muslims are feeling frustrated by having to defend their faith. As your article says, “As a Muslim American community, we should not be held accountable for the acts of any individual,” said Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America. Personally, I am exhausted from the last few days of trying to defend our country’s principles against the views of radicals (Christian or otherwise). Without discussion and free speech, though, how can we grow as a society? How can we ask questions? How can we learn? If we shut off the discussion, then where does that get us?

    I truly feel we need to plod forward to continue to tirelessly educate the people of Boston and work towards interfaith dialogues to make things better for everyone, joining with groups from other faiths to get the word out. Letting people know where they can find out more about American Muslims — websites, events, news programs, is a step in the right direction.

    Ethnic and religious issues are no stranger to Boston. The city has steadily overcome these (Common Ground — by Lukas): the situation between Dorchester and the Irish of South Boston, the differences between Irish Catholics and New England Protestants. Boston’s progress has been significant. Do not give in to these events and allow them to set us back.
    We must be patient … this type of stuff takes time…

    On a local note, I am told that our local interfaith group is approaching the Islamic Center of our area. I pray that he will accept their offer, so they can work together towards making things better for our community.

    Boston maintains a long standing tradition of respecting personal freedom. Most of us have family, who at some point, immigrated due to some sort of persecution, seeking a better life. My ancestor, Samuel Neilson, one of the founders of the United Irishmen and a presbyterian, started the Irish Rebellion of 1798 for religious equality. My grandfather spent 3 years in a Scottish prison, before he was exiled to the US. His property and family wealth were confiscated in return for his involvement in the cause. He would be proud of those of us who are standing up for what is right with dignity.

    Keep praying for the best humans have. We have so much more good to offer one another, than bad. Keep believing in miracles and small, meaningful human connections.

    It may take some time, but Boston will get through this. I believe websites such yours, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Interfaith Alliance, and community organizations such ours can take a lead to help our city make it through this important transition.

    We must ALL Hold Strong Together!

    Blessings, peace and grace.

    By the way — My 9 year old had trouble going to school this morning. He was feeling anxious and nauseous. When asked by the school psychologist if there were friends he was looking forward to seeing and had missed over April vacation, he replied, “Yes, Ahmed”. You see, while I thought Sam would help Ahmed to feel included this morning, it was actually Ahmed who would help Sam. We must do this for our children.

  7. South Shore Massachusetts

    I’m from an old New England family, whose father taught me the value of writing a well thought out letter, when situations demand it. No, it was definitely not a paid contribution. I’m frankly flattered you are impressed with the writing. It was from the heart, every last bit of it!

  8. Fed up in Colorado

    I am fed up with their lies and BS. Just remember that their wonderful holy boo k says that it is fine to lie to the infidel if it furthers the cause of Islam. So why the F*** would I ever believe a word that comes out of their twisted, evil little mouths?!

  9. I would like to know one thing . Australia allows all types of people to come and live hear . That’s ok in a way . But they come here as Australians . Not Muslims or Jews. Religion has no part here . Practice at your home . Think about it
    I have been to many countries , and if tried to practice my religion or not wear appropriate clothing , I nearly was arrested for 30 days and deported. This nearly happened in 4 country’s . You can be killed for talking about your religion . So why in hell do we have to bend backwards . For these people religions .
    It has got so angry . If you talk about it Your are called racist . It is not racism. It is fact , This is Australia You must abid by our country laws , and way of life , what is wrong with this. Please explain

  1. […] [2] “…we will not allow the perception to be that there is any religion in the world that condones the taking of innocent life,” said Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations [CAIR; from a press conference held on 4/19/2013, after the bombing at the Boston Marathon]. http://www.religionnews.com/2013/04/19/muslim-leaders-we-stand-against-terrorism/ […]

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