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Georgia's Muslim community has once again spoken out against today's attacks on transportation facilities in Belgium as well as last week's attacks on the city streets of Turkey.
"Killing innocent people for any reason is wrong—period," said attorney Edward Ahmed Mitchell, the new executive director of CAIR Georgia. "But it is especially offensive to commit murder in the name of faith. Muslims in Georgia join Muslims across America and Muslims around the world in condemning such violence, which contradicts basic teachings of Islam."
Georgia Muslims have vocally spoken out against similar attacks in the past, most recently running a full-page advertisement in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution condemning the San Bernardino shooting and welcoming Georgians to visit their local mosques. American Muslims also raised $200,000 for the victims of that attack in just one week. Muslim leaders, scholars and organizations have also hosted anti-extremist seminars and conferences both here and abroad.
Tarek El-Messidi, founder of Celebrate Mercy, responded with sadness to the loss of lives by adding:
“My prayers for the innocent victims of senseless, monstrous, and inhuman bloodshed in Brussels, Ankara, Syria, and the list goes on and on. I often think about and pray for the family members who suddenly lose their loved ones in such ways. May God strengthen and comfort them. And may God rid the world of this evil and fill it with peace.”
Atlanta citizen Asad Islam shared his sympathies as well.
“I got out of bed this morning with a broken heart. I have woken up too many mornings this way. My heart breaks not just as a Muslim, but as a human being. How can anyone who calls themselves human not feel hurt by what is happening? I also feel empathy for you, the non-Muslim reader of this post, to whom it must seem hollow when I declare that I denounce these horrible acts. But that is all I can say or do. I am not an extremist. I don't know any extremists. I don't know anyone who might know an extremist. I am a Muslim. I am an Atlantan. I am your neighbor. And just like you, I just want this violence to end.”
Imam Nadim Sulaiman Ali, Imam of the Community Masjid of Atlanta, expressed his condolences for the victims and their families and added:
“It is unfortunate that those who seek redress from the vestiges of colonialism do so in a way that is inconsistent with the practices of The Prophet Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (Peace Be Upon Him). These acts are more consistent with anarchy than Islam, and may The Creator guide those who seek to do his will find means that are more pleasing to him, and consistent with the rules of engagement sanctioned by his book and his last prophet.”
He forbade the following:
Killing women and children
Killing the elderly, religious workers, and non-combatants.
Hurting the infirmed and disabled.
The mutilation of dead combatants
Being unmerciful to those who surrender.
Abusing prisoners of war.
Harming the environment or animals.
At the same time, many Muslims around the US find hypocrisy in the ways the media are covering the attacks.
“[An] interesting contrast I noticed is the number of notifications I received on my phone from media outlets on the Brussels attacks,” said Atlanta citizen Nusaiba Mubarak. “I received 10 to 20 notifications in span of less than 12 hours regarding the attacks of Brussels, but regarding the attacks in Turkey that just recently occurred, I received only one or two notifications. The media hypocrisy is unacceptable. It tells us a lot about which lives are worth reporting on, and which are not.”
Mubarak also expressed annoyance at the fact that Facebook has created profile picture filters and ‘check-ins’ for Brussels but not for Turkey.
Another response that has offended Muslims worldwide is the question “Do you condemn what happened in Brussels, yes or no?" They also find it frustrating that a small group of people like ISIS have taken over the voices of the overwhelming majority of peace loving Muslims.
El-Messidi had similar sentiments to add.
“I have no issue expressing sympathy for the victims, praying for them, fighting extremism. But it is insulting for anyone to ask individual Muslims whether they condemn the killing of innocents; people should be made aware of how insensitive that question is. If you ask whether my religion condemns it, I invite you to learn more about my religion. This short video, where I and others discuss this, is a great place to start.”
I condemn any requests for me, as a Muslim, to condemn the #BrusselsAttack. Such requests will be taken as you questioning my humanity.— Tarek El-Messidi (@Elmessidi) March 22, 2016
Hajja Ayisha Jefferies Cisse, Vice President of The African American Islamic Institute, is one of many who believe that it would be best for the West to use the two billion Muslim allies they have.
“Muslims and scholars of Islam are your greatest asset, utilize these assets to understand Islam. The attacks on Belgium are designed to destabilize Europe. These attackers are fifth generation ideologues and their ignorance and vulnerability make them extremely dangerous. Western strategies are based on the assumption that you can kill an idea--impossible! Engage our citizenry and put resources into place to counter the falsehood of these ideas.”
Atlantan Ruwa Romman expressed the fear that many Muslim Americans feel when such attacks take place.
“When I first heard about Brussels, my first reaction like major Muslims I know was please don't be someone who says they're Muslim. And once ISIS said it was them, I just felt so deflated. I couldn't figure out if I felt anger at ISIS members, people who pointed their finger at me, or overall injustice in the world? That anger engulfed my sadness as I realized we are all being attacked when this happens, everyday, and some of us have to duck in fear while begging others to see that we're scared and threatened too. My thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected, but I pray that this time our response will be deafening unity against forces like ISIS. It's time to break the cycle or ISIS will win. Above all else, let's not blame the same people escaping violence like we've seen in Brussels daily in their homes.”
Aisha Yaqoob, founder of the Georgia Muslim Voter Project, encourages Muslims to respond by getting involved with their local government.
“In the wake of the tragic Brussels incident, many in the Muslim community are afraid of retaliation. I understand and I feel for you. But I think more than fear we need to come together and build relationships with our local communities, and local government. Take the time to build a relationship with people in your local city or county so that when (God forbid) something happens, you know they are there for you.”
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