DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. (AP) – About 20 religious, community and academic leaders met Wednesday to discuss the vandalism of Shiite mosques and businesses in Detroit and help ease tensions between local followers of the Shiite and Sunni sects of Islam.

The closed-door meeting was held at the Islamic House of Wisdom, near where vandals broke the windows of two mosques and six businesses owned by Iraqi Shiites, the second-largest Islamic sect after the Sunnis.

Detroit police have not confirmed a motive for the vandalism. But some local Muslims believe it is related to events in Iraq, particularly the Dec. 29 execution of Saddam Hussein by that nation’s Shiite-controlled government and the resulting celebration by Shiites in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn.

“We need to tell our communities not to rush to judgment on who the perpetrators were. However, if they were Sunni it’s not indicative of what the Sunni leaders preach in the mosque,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“We were all reiterating the same point – our unity as Muslims takes precedence over being Sunni or Shiite,” said Walid, whose group helped organize Wednesday’s meeting. The others were the Islamic Shura Council of Michigan and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan.


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