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US Muslim Leaders Condemn Violent Protests in Libya, Egypt

American Muslim leaders are condemning the killing of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Libya and the assault on the U.S. embassy in Egypt as well as the anti-Islamic video that apparently sparked the attacks.  They say violence is not the answer to criticism of their religion.

The violence in Benghazi and Cairo has shocked Americans -- including American Muslims.

A group of U.S. Muslim leaders joined other clergy at the National Press Club here in Washington on Wednesday to condemn the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

"We mourn the loss of a champion of freedom," said Imam Mohamed Majid, President of the Indiana-based Islamic Society of North America.

Stevens was killed at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in protests that erupted over the release of a film mocking Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

Majid says it offended him.

"It's okay to be angry; it's okay to be upset because we love the Prophet.  But the way we respond is in the prophetic way, in his way, not the dictated way from other people who tell us we're going to incite you to commit violence so you can distort the image of your prophet furthermore," he said.

The film also offended Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism here in Washington.

"It was made to insult, to degrade, to denigrate, to mock religion in a way that common sense would have told them it was likely to evoke violence, and to do at such a time, to release it just at 9/11 [i.e., September 11, the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington] was a particularly repugnant act by those who were involved with the film," Saperstein said.

Similar protests have erupted before.  In 2008 in Indonesia, violence erupted in response to a film by a Dutch politician that attacked Islam's holy book, the Quran.

Haris Tarin, Washington Director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an advocacy group that promotes the integration of Muslims in American society, says there is a small, but committed segment of U.S. society that is trying to defame Islam.

"They're not in the business of trying to promote understanding, better relations, democracy.  They're in the business of demonizing, of hate mongering and trying to marginalize American Muslim communities and incite U.S.-majority Muslim country relations," Tarin said.

Tarin says the protesters in Libya and Egypt were incited by the film to riot, but that they are wrong if they think that America is anti-Muslim. "And the last message that I want to send to our brethren in the Muslim world is that Muslims in America are a vibrant community who enjoy religious freedom to its utmost," he said.

These religious leaders say this is not a conflict between Islam and America, but between fringe groups who want to incite one.

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

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Comment Sorting
by: lawrence from: Ivory Coast
September 13, 2012 11:33 AM
I watched the part of the film , yes it is stupid and poorly made, So who is this Mohommed??A a Christian I condemn this in the strongest terms senseless act of violence on the USA , But I am here to say, this is not for us to judge or revenge. This is for God to deal with. God doesn't need us, to storm into a embassy and kill people!Who is ur GOD? Do you think I like when my God is brought down to hedonistic levels, no, but I'm not going to do more harm in God's name. God is love, Peace,respect to all Mankid and Wisdom,Is Mohemmed ur GOD?Because I see man with this same name Boming another member with this same religion.So who are u fighting for?God is mercy and most of all God doesn't need me to do anything he is omnipresent, omniscient... God is in control.I Love my father in Heaven.

by: basie from: Leesburg VA
September 13, 2012 11:29 AM
All of us here were deeply saddened by the news,” The ambassador was one of the first advocates in the early stage of the revolution to help the Libyan people to achieve their Goal
“I think no matter what the movie depicts, there’s certainly no justification for retaliating with these kinds of acts. “I don’t know why overseas these things provoke such a reaction. He helped the Libyan people to get rid of the dictator. The one slitting the Libyan people.
Muslims need to Educate our self “The prophet (Muhammad) himself was insulted in person in his life and he never sought revenge or to kill anybody.”

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 13, 2012 8:12 AM
This religion cannot integrate in civil and volatile societies, nay USA. It's like misplaced priority. Muslims through and through prove that they cannot cohabit with sane people and peoples of other faiths; they are not ready to accommodate other people's views and criticism and so cannot be a religion for humans. We must remember that it is because of this domineering posture that peoples of other faiths are almost extinct in countries where islam is predominant - predominant because it systematically destroyed the peoples surrounding it - it itself being the only religion outrightly violent and nihilist. Today the American muslim is preaching peace to be granted a foothold. When that is achieved, the tune will change, and violence with suicide attacks will replace the peace. I won't wish America that luck. God forbid!

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