‘It’s really important for us to reiterate the double standard that expects Muslims to do something more or different because a criminal has a Muslim identity.’Zahra Billoo
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Condemnations and prayer vigils have become an almost immediate response by Muslim leaders in the wake of attacks perpetrated in the name of Islam. And the San Bernardino shootings were no exception.
A few hours after the two shooters were identified as Muslims on Wednesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) of greater Los Angeles leapt into action. The group condemned the attack and put forward the brother-in-law of shooting suspect Syed Farook. He mourned the 14 lives lost and expressed sorrow for the now 21 people who were wounded.
The next day, the Baitul Hameed Mosque in Chino, the largest in San Bernardino County, held a vigil. The primary purpose of the event was to show support for the victims’ families, said Dr. Ahsan Khan a few hours before the event.
“This is also an opportunity for us to show that the majority of Muslims in the world are peace-loving, and what we believe is antithetical to what we witnessed,” Khan said.
But some Muslims — particularly in Northern California — have been rethinking this strategy, said Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Bay Area office of CAIR.
“I don’t anticipate any vigils being driven or led by the Muslim community in Northern California,” Billoo said.
Instead, CAIR is encouraging community members to join interfaith vigils. The organization has staked out the position that its community members experience terrorist attacks — regardless of whether they’re perpetrated in the name of Islam — as Americans, not as Muslims.