Muslims Respond to Bombings: That Is Not Islam; Jacksonville Faithful Are among Those Condemning the London Attacks

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF BRUMLEY

From Jacksonville to Washington, Muslims on Friday expressed solidarity and sympathy with the victims of Thursday's London subway and bus bombings, while condemning terrorists who kill in the name of Islam.

"To me, it's outrageous that you can call yourself a Muslim and do anything like that," Jacksonville resident Anthony Mustafa, 41, said as he left Friday prayers at the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida.

Jacksonville resident Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he made essentially the same point during a meeting Friday in Washington between American Muslim leaders and David Manning, British ambassador to the United States.

The 20-minute gathering "gave us the opportunity to distance Islam from the terrorism of a few people who are committing these barbaric acts in the name of our faith," Ahmed said.

While investigators in London have not confirmed whether an Islamic terrorist group claiming responsibility for the bombings is really behind them, Muslim groups issued news releases, held news conferences and offered sermons to counter the notion that Islam is a violent religion. They also wanted to prevent retaliation against American Muslims and pre-empt the recurring criticism that American Muslims don't condemn terrorism loudly enough.

"Everyone who can say anything in the Muslim community should do it," said Kamal Nawash, president of the Free Muslims Coalition in Washington.

The organization's news release called on Muslims to speak up to condemn the attacks.

"These people are committing evil in our name, and we are the only ones who can do anything about it," Nawash told The Florida Times-Union.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations led an organized public relations campaign Friday. Its 30-plus chapters held news conferences to express condolences and condemn terrorists, national spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said.

Mosque spiritual leaders were also encouraged to devote their Friday sermons to condemning militant Islam, Hooper said.

In Florida, news conferences were held by the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Jacksonville and Miami. …