‘There is too much anger out there.’ Bombing of a Minnesota mosque leaves Muslims concerned

la-1501976924-wer1upgbbr-snap-imageTerror tore through a suburban Minneapolis community on Saturday after the bombing of a mosque, amplifying growing concerns among some Muslims who have felt targeted nationwide in recent months.

Law enforcement officials said the explosion occurred around 5 a.m. at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis. Fire and smoke engulfed much of the red-brick structure, but there were no injuries.

The FBI is leading the ongoing investigation, along with local law enforcement. Authorities say they believe an improvised explosive device — also known as an IED — was to blame for the blast at the mosque, which primarily serves the area’s large Somali community.

Mohamed Omar, who has been executive director of the mosque for two years, said Saturday that he was relieved no one was hurt.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES 

Religious leaders unite in condemnation of Finsbury Park attack

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Muslim leaders have reacted to the attack in Finsbury Park, north London, with shock, condemnation and calls for security at mosques to be stepped up. Many also said the backdrop of the attack was rising Islamophobia.

Support also came from Christian, Jewish and Sikh leaders.

The Muslim Council of Britain condemned the attack near the Muslim Welfare House. Harun Khan, the MCB’s secretary general, said: “It appears from eyewitness accounts that the perpetrator was motivated by Islamophobia. Over the past weeks and months, Muslims have endured many incidents of Islamophobia, and this is the most violent manifestation to date.

“Given we are approaching the end of the month of Ramadan and the celebration of Eid, with many Muslims going to local mosques, we expect the authorities to increase security outside mosques as a matter of urgency.”

Muslim communities wanted “transformative action … to tackle not only this incident but the hugely worrying growth in Islamophobia”, he added.

The Muslim Association of Britain said it unreservedly condemned “this evil terror attack” and called on police to increase security in mosques.

It demanded politicians “treat this major incident no less than a terrorist attack. We call on the government to do more to tackle this hateful evil ideology which has spread over these past years and resulted in an increase of Islamophobic attacks and division of our society, as well as spreading of hate.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN (UK)

I’m a British Muslim man of the same age as the London and Manchester terrorists – and I know why we turned out so different

khuram-butt-jihadis-next-door-abzI am the same age as Salman Abedi, the Manchester suicide bomber, and almost the same age as the recently named London Bridge terrorists; I also profess to be of the same faith. Thankfully, these are the only two things we have in common. As well as studying medicine at university, I currently serve as the president of the UK Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association. I spend a lot of my time working to organize interfaith dialogues and peace conferences. So how exactly did we turn out so different? And could knowing the answer to this help reduce the numbers of young people being brainwashed into extremism?

The primary answer to this is education. Even in childhood, I always asked questions about my religion – and as I grew up, I had access to imams and elders ready to answer them. I was free to challenge them, to ask the toughest and most sensitive questions about the most “controversial” aspects of Islam.

Through this process I learnt that Islam teaches there is no compulsion in religion, that taking even a single life is equivalent to killing to the whole of mankind, and that saving a life is equivalent to saving the whole of humanity. I learnt that the concept of jihad is not about spreading religion through force, but about struggling against one’s own evil desires in order to reform oneself and become a pure-hearted, decent individual.

I learnt that the Prophet Mohammed taught that loyalty to one’s nation of residence is part of one’s faith, reinforced by the fact that at least once a year at our religious functions we publicly make the pledge to serve our country whenever required. I learnt about the role of charity in Islam, and what the Qur’an calls the “steep ascent” – the true means of attaining nearness to God: “It is the freeing of a slave, or feeding in a day of hunger, an orphan near of kin, or a poor man lying in the dust.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE INDEPENDENT (UK)

Terrorists will not divide us, religious leaders pledge after London attack

londonIF THE terror attack in central London on Saturday night leads to a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment, the terrorists will have won, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

“Every time a Muslims is abused on a bus or a mosque is attacked, the terrorists have taken another step forward,” Archbishop Welby said on Monday morning.

“If we attack or persecute a particular group of people on the grounds of their faith alone, the terrorists will give three cheers and say: ‘Thank you, you have done our work for us.’”

Archbishop Welby gave his warning during an interview on BBC Radio 4. He also said, however, that it was impossible to deny the connection between Islam and the massacre on Saturday evening, where three men armed with knives killed seven and injured 48 more on London Bridge and in Borough Market.

Stating that Islamist-inspired terrorism had nothing to do with Islam made as little sense as suggesting the Srebrenica atrocity during the Balkan Wars had nothing to do with Christianity, Archbishop Welby said.

“Throughout history, religious tradition and scriptures have been twisted and misused by people. If something is happening within our own faith tradition, we have to take responsibility for being very, very clear in countering it.”

But it was striking how quickly every major Muslim leader and organisation had spoken out in horror at the attack, Archbishop Welby also said. And while it was natural to be concerned about relations between faith groups after a terror attack, everyone could see London’s “extraordinary cohesion”.

“There isn’t a fundamental problem with cohesion. The vast majority of Muslims and everyone else have a single view about what kind of country they want to live in.”

The three attackers, who have yet to be named by police, are thought to have been inspired by Islamic State, which has released a statement claiming that they were its fighters. Officers investigating the attack have arrested 12 people and are searching homes in East London.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHURCH TIMES (UK)

If we asked young British Muslims what they think about extremism, we might actually be able to tackle the issue

britishmuslimyouthJust this week we saw another young British Muslim, 22-year-old Salman Abedi disgracefully murdering young children, those of whom were his own peers, in an arena in Manchester.

This is not the first time that young people have turned to violence and terrorism. Whether it has been 17-year old Talha Asmal in Dewsbury or the young girls from Bethnal Green who, unbeknown to their parents and peers, concocted a plan to join Isis in Syria. It has all been seen before: “loving, kind, caring” teenagers who all of a sudden become murderers and members of a death cult. Young people that, in the end, vowed to evil methods to express their grievances.

Yet, how many ordinary young British Muslims have we consulted about this issue? Have their voices really been heard on this issue that primarily affects them? Of course, many of those groomed by radicalisation have accepted an ideological pathway that pits themselves against the rest, no matter how inhumane it might be. But could Salman Abedi’s Libyan heritage have been a grievance, caused by a failed British intervention destroying Libya and leaving a power vacuum filled by extremists, as claimed by one of his friends on Radio 4? Could an open dialogue have prevented such a drastic conversion?

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE INDEPENDENT 

 

Members of Manchester’s Muslim community among those most strongly condemning deadly bombing

la-fg-britain-muslim-manchester-20170523Greater Manchester police ran a mock anti-terrorist operation a year ago featuring a bomber shouting in Arabic, “Allahu akbar,” or God is great.

Eight hundred volunteers took part in the overnight drill at a huge shopping center on the outskirts of the city to make it as realistic as possible and prepare the city’s emergency services for an attack.

But the day after the practice drill, authorities apologized to the city’s Muslim community and admitted they had been guilty of stereotyping.

After Monday night’s suicide bombing, many Manchester residents praised police, fire and ambulance workers for their rapid response. The 22-year-old suspect in the suicide bombing, for which the Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility, was described as an English-born son of Libyan immigrants.

Muslim leaders were among those who were quick to condemn the attack, which killed 22 people and wounded dozens, and declare that the city would not be divided.

Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of Ramadhan Foundation in Manchester, said in a statement that the deadly explosion after an Ariana Grande concert was the “darkest day” in the city’s history.

Shafiq said the people of Manchester would not be divided and would instead “mourn, remember the victims and get on with our lives.”

“I love Manchester and its people — we are a resolute people and will not be divided by these barbaric animals or cowered by their violence,” he said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LA TIMES 

We are all terrorists

The debate on terrorism forces Muslims to participate in an unwinnable argument

Demonstrators standing at the edge of the rally area near

TIMES SQUARE, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES – 2015/11/21: Demonstrators standing at the edge of the rally area near the intersection of 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue hold signs. About a hundred members of New York’s Muslim-American community and non-Muslim supporters gathered in Times Square for the two-fold purpose of expressing grief for the victims of recent attacks by Islamic State extremists and to condemn the Islamic State’s radical interpretation of Islam and the terrorist acts carried out by them. (Photo by Albin-Lohr Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

I arrived in Oslo, Norway, on Nov. 16 as Europe began its first workweek after deadly terrorist attacks in Paris. As I stood in line for passport control, a clipped voice over a public address system declared that it was time for a moment of silence in solidarity with Parisians. As the announcement ended, the two men ahead of me in line, clutching green Pakistani passports, exchanged a glance.

I understood their palpable anxiety. The horrors of Paris have bloated the weight of being brown and Muslim to grotesque proportions. Terrorism’s ravages dangle over the exchange that permits entry or can deny it. In the hush, I began to rehearse my responses to anticipated questions. I felt nervous and unprepared.

Europe was coming together to commemorate the 130 lives lost, the 350 people injured and the millions left traumatized in seven coordinated attacks claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Despite condemnations by Muslim community leaders and ordinary Muslims alike, the post-Paris political climate was overtaken by a seductive Islamophobia that substantiates existing prejudice and rallies the terrified Westerner to support outright exclusion of Muslims from their countries or an abridgment of their rights. It did not matter thatMuslims are the most frequent targets of terrorism and the vast majority of Muslims condemn ISIL. In the odd instance that Muslims were included in television debates or quoted in news reports, their remarks have been ineffectual, bouncing off the Teflon-coated belief in Muslim complicity and culpability.

Religious profiling and social and cultural exclusion often reach a fever pitch after a terrorist attack. Such profiling and the resultant mass surveillance place undue expectations on ordinary Muslims. During a radio interview I did a few days after the Paris attacks, my interviewer appeared baffled when I insisted that my power to stop terrorism was equivalent to his capacity to stop the next mass shooter.

The anti-Muslim bias also assumes that there is something inherently Islamic about terrorism, making all Muslims inherently suspect and tainted. Muslims try to counter this misconception with condemnations, disassociations and enumerations of Muslim lives lost. But they lose every time. More than a decade after 9/11, 56 percent of U.S. citizens think the values of Islam are at odds with American values.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA