(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/11/06) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today released a statement repudiating the rhetoric and worldview expressed in an Al-Qaeda videotape released on the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. In his statement, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad said:
"As we commemorate the 5th anniversary of the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization in the United States, would like to use this opportunity to challenge the rhetoric and the worldview of the recent videotape released by Al-Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
"To more than a billion Muslims worldwide, Islam is a religion that teaches tolerance, freedom and compassion. Those who understand Islam and know Muslims as friends and colleagues realize that Islam is one of the three Abrahamic faiths and that Muslims are contributing members of societies around the world.
"Unfortunately, for many who know little of Islam or Muslims, Al-Qaeda has come to represent both.
"As American Muslims, this is simply unacceptable and we will not allow terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda to be the voice of Muslims or the representation of Islam to the rest of the world.
"In light of the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we feel the need to once again condemn and repudiate Al-Qaeda and its myopic worldview.
"Notwithstanding the fact that there are legitimate political grievances in the Muslim world today, Islam has never, and will never, justify the killing of innocent civilians in order to achieve political or religious goals.
"Al-Qaeda's worldview is a complete distortion of Islam because Islamic teachings clearly state that the killing of one innocent life is the moral equivalent of the killing of all humanity.
"As Muslims, we will continue to condemn Al-Qaeda and ensure that the rest of the world learns the true message of Islam and its teachings of peace, justice and compassion for all."
At today's news conference held to release this statement, Awad noted that American Muslim groups were the first to condemn the 9/11 attacks. He also listed several anti-terror initiatives by American Muslims, such as the "Not in the Name of Islam" online petition drive and last year's Islamic legal ruling (fatwa) by U.S. Muslim scholars against terrorism and religious extremism.
CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.