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U.S. Muslim Leaders Are Preaching Against Violence

U.S. Muslim Leaders Are Preaching Against Violence

Herald Tribune, 9/19/05

Viewers of cable TV stations in the Tampa market last weekend may have seen a 30-second advertisement in which two American Muslims denounce violence in the name of Islam. They vow, in part, that they will “not allow our faith to be hijacked by criminals.”

The ad, which aired 105 times over the weekend on CNN, the Weather Channel and other networks, was produced by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

It’s part of a campaign by the nonprofit council and other Islamic groups to urge young American Muslims to reject extremism and terrorism.

It’s a welcome, if overdue, development.

For a long time after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, many American Muslim leaders failed to speak out against Islamic fundamentalists who commit violence in the name of religion, according to prominent Muslims recently interviewed by New York Times reporter Laurie Goldstein.

American Muslims have been “in denial” about the attacks, said Hesham A. Hassaballa, a Chicago doctor and columnist: “A lot of people refused to believe that there are Muslims who would do that type of thing, because they can’t picture it. In their minds it’s just impossible that someone would do that in the name of their faith.”

So what is now prompting American Muslim leaders to wage a theological battle against extremists? The July terrorist bombings of London subways and buses, the leaders told Goldstein.

With the bombings came a disturbing revelation: The suspects were home-grown British Muslims, from places like North Kensington, Notting Hill and Finsbury Park rather than Saudi Arabia or Egypt. They were the children of immigrants.

American Muslim leaders say they now fear that their young people might also succumb to radical teachings. The leaders hope to combat that. (MORE)

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