The Fiqh Council Of North America Wishes To Reaffirm Islam’s Absolute Condemnation Of Terrorism And Religious Extremism

Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives. There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism. Targeting civilians’ life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram – or forbidden – and those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals, not “martyrs.” The Qur’an, Islam’s revealed text, states: “Whoever kills a person [unjustly]…it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.” (Qur’an, 5:32) Prophet Muhammad said there is no excuse for committing unjust acts: “Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well, and that if they do wrong you will do wrong to them. Instead, accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong (even) if they do evil.” (Al-Tirmidhi) God mandates moderation in faith and in all aspects of life when He states in the Qur’an: “We made you to be a community of the middle way, so that (with the example of your lives) you might bear witness to the truth before all mankind.” (Qur’an, 2:143) In another verse, God explains our duties as human beings when he says: “Let there arise from among you a band of people who invite to righteousness, and enjoin good and forbid evil.” (Qur’an, 3:104) Islam teaches us to act in a caring manner to all of God’s creation. The Prophet Muhammad, who is described in the Qur’an as “a mercy to the worlds” said: “All creation is the family of God, and the person most beloved by God (is the one) who is kind and caring toward His family.” {In the light of the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah we clearly and strongly state}: 1. All acts of terrorism targeting civilians are haram (forbidden) in Islam. 2. It is haram for a Muslim to cooperate with any individual or group that is involved in any act of terrorism or violence. 3. It is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians. We issue this fatwa following the guidance of our scripture, the Qur’an, and the teachings of our Prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him. We urge all people to resolve all conflicts in just and peaceful manners. We pray for the defeat of extremism and terrorism. We pray for the safety and security of our country, the United States, and its people. We pray for the safety and security of all inhabitants of our planet. We pray that interfaith harmony and cooperation prevail both in the United States and all around the globe.

Analysis: Muslim Youth In Us Oppose Terror

Niko Kyriakou WASHINGTON — Muslim youth groups in the United States are addressing suspicions that the London bombers were both young and “homegrown” by ramping up anti-terrorism initiatives. After the second attack hit London on July 21, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Islamic Society of North America issued a statement in which young Muslim groups across the United States condemned terrorism and the ideology that fuels it. The Washington-based, Muslim Public Affairs Council says that this is the first campaign specifically launched by Muslim youth, and counts as an important addition to the movement since most Islamic terrorists are between 20 and 30 years old, the group told United Press International. “We Muslim-American students and youth stand united in condemning all acts of terror and the burgeoning war on ideas,” the group said in a statement. “The voice of American Muslim youth is essential at this tenuous time and we will rise to the occasion of making our values heard … We seek to cultivate a culture of pluralism, tolerance and coexistence for the advancement of all people.” British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that future attacks on his country, which has a large immigrant Muslim population, could be prevented in part by legal and security measures, but “in the end, this can only be taken on and defeated by the [Muslim] community itself”. Some Muslim youth groups in the United States appear to have the same thought. Signed by some 30 Muslim student groups from universities across the country, including the University of California at Los Angeles and Cornell University, the statement offers an open-invitation for other groups to sign on and affirms that Islam does not tolerate terrorism under any circumstances. A number of the largest US Muslim groups – including The Islamic Circle of North America, the Coalition of Islamic Organizations of Chicago, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and groups that are part of the National Grassroots Campaign to Fight Terrorism – have outspokenly condemned acts of terror since the London attacks. Salam Al Marayati, the director of the Muslim Affairs Council, told UPI that his organization plans to “positively and constructively intervene with our youth to make sure they have a good understanding of Islam so that no extremists will play upon them”. He said that the campaign is in its nascent stage but might begin Internet outreach or hold a youth summit in the fall. Marayati said that he does not think that there are any young Muslims in the United States who embrace terrorist ideologies, yet. “I don’t think there are any right now; this is a proactive program. We are not going to wait for extremist groups to recruit any of our youth,” he said. The way to prevent young Muslims from adopting violent views is “to preach the ideology of love and mutual respect and justice, and secondly, to bring youth into more positive, active engagement with society and to listen to them so we reduce the likelihood of alienation,” Marayati said. Other signatories include the national office of the Muslim Students Association located in Virginia. The Association is the first and largest coalition of Muslim students in the United States, with nearly 600 chapters averaging 50 students per chapter. The national office, however, does not speak for the local chapters. Local MSA chapters, like the one in Ohio University in Athens, which had not yet signed onto the Muslim Affairs campaign, have put letters of sympathy for the London victims on their Website and lent their support to a petition of Muslim groups that disassociate themselves from terror. The petition was put out by the Council on American Islamic relations. But at times no action seems like enough to clear Muslims in the minds of others, said Usame Tunagur, of the group’s Ohio chapter. This week the group was planning to run a story in the local newspaper about how the local Muslim community was not only saddened by the attacks in London – and more recently, in Egypt – but also tired of the negative impressions that these attacks give about Islam, Tunagur said. “It really saddens the hearts of community members because when each of these things happens it worsens the image of Islam,” he said. Tunagur said that he felt “hurt” that reports by the British Broadcasting Corporation following the London attacks focused on how “these people could be our next door neighbors”. “They are creating this atmosphere of fear and paranoia in the general public – so bringing down the borders [between people], opening up is not very easy,” he said. In the nine years that Tunagur has spent in the United States and the two he has lived in Athens, where about 50 to 75 community members are Muslim, Tunagur said that he has never heard Muslims say that they support terrorist acts. Before 9/11 he said that there was a much larger Muslim student community at the university, particularly from Saudi Arabia, but that after the attacks the school has not received a lot of new Muslim students. Tunagur called Athens a “progressive” and “open-minded” town, but said that many students on campus seem to think that in general Muslims overseas “want us dead”, calling that a “generalization of people who live in the States”. “Most of the time we see the destruction and not the construction because the destruction is shorter, quicker and attracts more attention,” he said. Over the past four or five years Muslim groups in the United States have become increasingly quick to condemn acts of terror, but Tunagur believes that something more is needed. “I think having proactive events is the next step,” if Muslims are to cut through the “huge curtain between the values of Islam and the West” that terrorism presents, he said. The best way for Muslims to change the way that they are viewed, but also take action on the political issues that they support, is to take the route of political activism and social responsibility, the American Anti-Arab Discrimination Committee told UPI. Young Muslims should “get involved in society and work for the betterment of society and that will help address whatever grievances you have”, said Layla Al Khatami, the communications director at the committee, which is opposed to terrorism and provides legal aid to Arabs facing discrimination. The Council on American Islamic relations also said that they support the youth campaign “wholeheartedly” and that they had launched a recent campaign of 120 imams who condemn extremism and terrorism. “I think the false perception that Muslims in general support terrorism leads to violence and that’s why we launched our ‘Not in the Name of Islam’ petition drive,” Ibrahim Hooper, the communications director at the council told UPI. Specifically he cited the plight of the Palestinians. Another Muslim student group, The Islamic Alliance for Justice at Cornell University, claimed that “certain elements within the American political spectrum” have falsely accused Muslims of silence and even tacit support of terrorism. But “condemnation has in fact been consistently voiced by leading Muslim bodies and organizations both foreign and domestic,” Ahmed Maaty, president of the Alliance at Cornell, told UPI. He said that he and the groups’ chapter at George Washington University in Washington are now planning a number of events, including interfaith dialogues and solidarity vigils, documentaries and panel discussions and articles and op-eds in local and campus media.

Demand For Halal Food Rises Among U.S. Muslims

By Michael Kress When Shaheda Sayed was growing up in Southern California in the 1960s, her father would occasionally drive 100 miles to slaughter animals so his family could have meat. That’s because the family, devout Muslims, only ate food that was halal – permitted for Muslims. And, in those days, it could not be found in U.S. stores. Halal is an Arabic word meaning “permitted.” It’s used to describe acceptable behavior under Muslim law. When applied to food, the term refers to dietary laws that, among other things, require meat to be slaughtered in a prescribed manner. (Muslim law also sets out actions that are haram, or “prohibited.” These include drinking alcohol and eating pork.) “We never ate in McDonald’s,” Sayed said. So when she grew up, Sayed decided to address the problem. In 1998, she and her brother co-founded Crave Foods, a company that produces halal hamburger patties and frozen prepared dishes, including chicken rolls and spicy wings. The Los Angeles-based company soon will expand its product offerings to include hot dogs and Philly cheesesteaks. Halal slaughtering must be done by a pious Muslim who says a prayer immediately prior to the act, uses only healthy animals, slaughters each one away from other animals, employs a sharp knife to the neck to ensure a quick death, and lets the blood drain. According to most authorities, slaughtering must be done by hand, not machine. Some companies marketing themselves as halal sell machine-slaughtered poultry – a source of controversy among Muslims. Crave Foods, which now employs about 100 people, exemplifies the growth of the American halal food industry in recent years. Estimates on the size of the industry are hard to come by, but Muslim-friendly restaurants are easier to find than ever before, and packaged halal foods, once found only in ethnic shops, are increasingly stocked by mainstream supermarkets. Sayed might even be able to enjoy a Happy Meal today. Two McDonald’s restaurants in Dearborn, Mich., serve halal Chicken McNuggets and McChicken sandwiches. “The Muslim consumer population is becoming much more savvy, and the market has grown up around them,” said Shahed Amanullah, who runs the Web site, which lists halal restaurants in cities around the world. (“Zabihah” is the word for the type of slaughter that makes meat halal.) “Muslims are starting to demand higher quality.” Amanullah’s site started in 1998 with 300 restaurants. Now, it lists more than 3,000 establishments, “everything from Mexican to Brazilian to Philly subs to pizza,” he said. “That diversity only happened in the last year or two.” Still, many Muslims say the industry has a long way to go to fully serve the needs of America’s Muslim community, estimated at anywhere from 2 million to more than 6 million people, and growing quickly. “The halal industry has not reached maturity,” Amanullah said. “There’s a market opportunity there for somebody.” When Muslims can’t find foods that have been certified as halal, they rely on ingredient lists on labels. Or, they look for symbols marking a product as kosher, since the Jewish dietary laws are similar to Muslim ones. But labels sometimes omit ingredients found in minute quantities. Or they’re vague – what, exactly, are “natural flavors”? And the kosher laws, while similar to halal, are not identical: Jews, for example, are not prohibited from consuming alcohol. And halal does not share the kosher ban on mixing meat and dairy ingredients, so relying on kosher symbols can be overly restrictive for Muslims. There are other pitfalls, said Rasheed Ahmed, founder of the Muslim Consumer Group, which educates Muslims about halal products and certifies products as halal. Many Muslims, for example, might eat a fast-food fish sandwich, figuring it’s acceptable since fish need not be slaughtered in any particular way. But if the fish is cooked in the same oil as non-halal meat products, it is haram, Ahmed said. And marshmallows – found in sweetened cereals and other packaged foods – may be made with pork products. As a result of problems like these, many devout Muslims feel they have few choices. “Muslims who are serious about halal have been avoiding mainstream food,” said Muhammad Munir Chaudry, president of the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, the largest U.S. organization that certifies products as acceptable for Muslims. Chaudry hopes to turn American Muslims from a people of label readers into one of symbol spotters. The council’s symbol, a crescent with the letter “M,” graces the products of nearly 2,000 companies, attesting that they are halal. That’s up from around 50 in 1990, he said. Other groups have their own symbols, such as the Muslim Consumer Group’s “H” in a triangle. “The trend is there,” Chaudry said of halal certification by mainstream food producers. “Companies have realized there’s a good-sized Muslim market here.” For a processed food to be certified as halal, it must pass muster with a certification group such as Chaudry’s. Representatives visit the production plant to inspect the ingredients used as well as the manufacturing and packaging methods. Representatives then revisit at least once a year. For companies that produce meat, the council has a halal supervisor on premises at all times, since the rules for slaughtering meat are complex, Chaudry said. His group’s fees range from about $2,000 a year to as much as $40,000 for large companies for which many products are certified. With the growth of the halal food industry, debates have broken out in the Muslim community over the rules and standards for deeming food acceptable. Must meat be hand-slaughtered or are machines acceptable? Must food businesses be Muslim-owned? Can a restaurant be considered halal if its food is okay but it serves alcohol? For many, such debates signal that the market has grown large enough to give Muslim consumers choices: It’s good if they have the luxury of discussing standards. If all that’s available is, say, machine-slaughtered meat, people wil* make do with what they have,” Sayed said. Increasingly, Muslims do not want to – nor are they forced to – simply make do. Muslims born and raised in America are more likely than their immigrant parents to call companies and request halal certification, Chaudry said. Advocates say certification brings benefits beyond helping America’s Muslims. For one thing, it helps U.S. companies export their products, since some Muslim countries mandate that all imports be halal. And certification can be used to market a product as wholesome. Being halal means a food has no hidden ingredients, and in the case of meat, that it does not come from a giant, automated slaughterhouse. “It’s going back to a simpler way of life,” Sayed said. “What we eat affects who we are and what we are, and our spirituality.” Such arguments were compelling to Cabot Cheese, a Vermont-based company that received certification in December 2003. The idea came up when company officials were discussing their kosher status, and the decision was based largely on demographics: Cabot services Northeast cities such as New York and Boston, which have large and quickly growing numbers of Muslims, as well as their Jewish populations. But the company was looking beyond these religious communities, hoping that kosher and halal certification sent a message to all consumers looking for healthy, natural foods. “If these foods are made in such a way that they can be both kosher and halal, it just speaks to a certain attention to detail and attention to food quality,” said Jed Davis, Cabot’s marketing director. “A lot of times, customers are looking for that type of third-party endorsement.” Becoming halal did not involve changing any Cabot products, so it’s “an inexpensive way of potentially dramatically increasing the market for our products,” Davis said. For now, Cabot’s decision is a minority one. Though finding halal food has become easier in recent years, many American food manufacturers still aren’t rushing to certify their products – at least, not yet. “But we are educating them,” said Ahmed of the Muslim Consumer Group

Italian Muslims Say New Terror Measures Fall Short

ROME Muslim leaders in Italy said that newly approved antiterror measures would go only part of the way in preventing London-style bomb attacks, and that the monitoring of religious leaders and mosques needed to be increased. The new measures, approved Friday by the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, make it a specific crime to recruit and train people for terrorism. They also increase security on Italy’s transport system and allow authorities to collect saliva samples from suspects for DNA testing. “The aspect of prevention is very important,” said Yassine Belkassem, vice president of the Confederation of Moroccans in Italy. “But we will have problems with the second generation of immigrants in Italy.” Belkassem and others said Italy’s growing Muslim community is often led by foreigners who are unqualified as religious leaders but claim to be imams and give sermons with no oversight at makeshift mosques or Islamic cultural centers. The government “needs to intervene to see who are these people, and who are the people who frequent these centers,” Belkassem said. Those interviewed said that, generally, there was no official school or degree needed to become an imam, and that the only requirement for leading the faithful was to be well versed in the Koran and Islamic theology. The community also must recognize an imam as such. “The one in Rome is the only one who has studied and has a diploma,” said Khalid Chaouki, a former president of the Young Muslims of Italy. He stressed the need for the Italian government to get more involved in following what’s happening in the Muslim community, saying, “We are for total transparency.” Chaouki said there were about 1.1 million Muslims in Italy and that the number was growing rapidly. He said better oversight and support for the mainstream, more moderate Muslim community “could stop our young from falling into the trap of fundamentalism.” Paris on Monday marked the 10th anniversary of a 1995 subway bombing by Algerian Islamic militants that turned train cars packed with rush-hour commuters into twisted wreckage amid a new wave of terror attacks in Europe. The attack of July 25, 1995, on Paris’s Saint-Michel station, near Notre Dame cathedral, killed eight people and wounded 150. It was the first in a series that terrorized Paris commuters. Gas-cooking canisters loaded with nails, sometimes hidden in garbage cans, were used in many of the bombings. The Armed Islamic Group, or GIA, a radical Algerian insurgency movement, claimed responsibility for some of the bombings, saying it was punishing France for supporting Algeria’s military-backed government in its war on Islamic insurgents. A man who falsely claimed to have a bomb in his bag prompted the authorities to evacuate Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan for more than an hour Sunday, causing delays for travelers across the Northeast and adding to a week of increased security in New York’s subway stations. Police officers also halted a tour bus and searched its passengers. In a dispute with an Amtrak ticket agent, the man placed a bag on a ticket counter and said a bomb was inside, the police said. The threat was unsubstantiated, but caused National Guardsmen in military fatigues to clear the station just after midday. Pope Benedict XVI said Monday he did not see an anti-Christian motive in the recent wave of terrorist attacks blamed on Islamic extremists, attributing them instead to “a much more general intention.” The pontiff also told reporters while vacationing in the Italian Alps that it was important to seek dialogue with the best elements of Islam.

Pressure Is Growing On Muslims In Italy

By Elisabeth Rosenthal ROME As a second wave of London bomb attacks hit the news Thursday, Imam Khaldi Samir clicked nervously at his office computer, next to the prayer hall at the Alhuda Islamic Cultural Association on the outskirts of Rome. Bombs in London, he has seen, produce fallout for him. Just two days earlier, with Italy stepping up surveillance after the first round of London attacks, 10 plainclothes police officers with a search warrant turned up at 7 a.m. at the imam’s home in Latina, 70 kilometers, or 40 miles, south of Rome. During a three-hour raid, while his children slept, they scoured the home he shares with his Italian wife, and then downloaded numbers from his cellphone. The police explained that they were looking for clues related to the London bombings, although they found nothing, said the imam, who preaches to up to 800 mostly poor immigrant worshipers each week. The search warrant did not indicate that the imam himself was suspected of a crime. Instead, the police politely explained, the search was “preventive” – the warrant stating he might have “unknowingly” had contact with people connected to terrorism. Five other leaders of the Italy’s Muslims were searched the same day, he said. “The state is punishing its best links to the Muslim community – we never expected that the Italian state would do something like this,” said Samir, a soft-spoken man in a shirt and slacks, clearly shaken by the course of events. “Every day I stress the need for moderation and integration,” Samir said, “but these searches bring into question my credibility in our community. People will say, ‘This is your payback for your moderation.'” He said such events served to radicalize young people. As antiterrorism officials across Europe are intensifying their hunt to root out sleeper cells, they walk a delicate line between thwarting terrorists and radicalizing innocent Muslims who are already largely isolated and marginalized in many European nations. The challenge of controlling terrorism without creating new terrorists, is particularly acute in countries like France and Italy. In those two countries, large and growing Muslim populations are kept by law and by custom on the fringes of mainstream society. There are an estimated 1.5 million Muslims in Italy, a country of about 58 million people. The vast majority of the Muslims are immigrants, who have little chance of getting citizenship. Less than 10 percent have an Italian passport. An official at Italy’s law enforcement agency, the Ministry of the Interior, said that he did not know specifics of recent raids, but that he was “not surprised” that such searches were occurring. “This is an ongoing process,” he said. On Friday, Italy’s Council of Ministers adopted a series of new antiterrorism provisions, which are likely to take effect soon. These include new registration requirements for Internet caf_s and cellphone users, new limits on pilots licenses, and quick expulsions for foreigners considered a danger to national security or who assist in terrorist activities. But the search on the imam’s house occurred legally under the current rules, which give judges wide leeway in issuing warrants. “What if I had reason to believe that a terrorist had gone to your house and was worried he left something – some documents or even a suitcase?” said a senior Italian antiterrorism official, explaining the search. In 2001, the police searched the Alhuda center, which includes a prayer hall and a cultural center and where Arabic and Islamic culture are taught to children. Last year, they searched the home of Ben Mohamed Mohamed, the center’s president. But since the attacks in London, the Italian government has beefed up security measures and has also attempted to reach out to Muslims. In Michelangelo’s beautiful Campidoglio, on the afternoon of the second London bombings, the city of Rome invited prominent Muslims to convey a message of coexistence. “Rome is a city that it open to everybody,” said Giuseppe Mannino, chairman of the City Council. “You are our brothers.” He shared the podium with Mahmoud Hammad Sheweita, imam of Rome’s only official mosque, the Grand Mosque – an architectural masterpiece filled with light and soaring arches, which operates with the permission and cooperation of the Ministry of the Interior. Samir and Mohamed listened from the back row. Unlike the Alhuda center, a subterranean former warehouse where young men wander in and out all day, the luxurious official mosque is open to worshipers only on Friday. For the rest of the week, its primary function is to serve as a sort of liaison between Islam and the Italian government. From here, Mario Scialoja, a former Italian diplomat and convert to Islam, who is head of the Italian branch of the World Muslim League, meets with Islamic ambassadors and lobbies Italian politicians, pushing them to allow Muslims better access to citizenship, and religious education for Muslim children. Scialoja said that the worshipers in his mosque, filled on Fridays, were typical Italian Muslims – poor immigrants who come to Italy for a better existence. He said that “99.7 percent of them couldn’t care less about fundamentalism” and that only 4 percent of Italy’s Muslims attend mosque on a regular basis. While he has noted some acts of intolerance since the London bombings, he praised Giuseppe Pisanu, the interior minister, whom he meets with regularly, and he called Italy’s new antiterrorism proposals “very responsible.” And though he blames the U.S. invasion of Iraq for creating terrorism, he does not support an immediate withdrawal. Italy has troops in Iraq in support of the U.S.-led invasion. “To stay is to feed this anger, but to leave now would create a mess,” he said. But his official version of Islam seems to have little resonance or even connection with Samir’s prayer hall, where many worshipers speak halting Italian and the lingua franca is Arabic. When Scialoja tried to form a national association of Muslim groups five years ago, “the experiment was a failure,” he said, “since some groups had views I couldn’t support.” In 2003, when the Grand Mosque expelled its new Imam for a fiery sermon that justified Palestinian bombings in Israel (though not in Italy), Alhuda’s Web site posted an article defending his right to free speech. In part because Italy does not recognize Islam as a religion, Samir’s flock does not have a real mosque. Italian Muslims must work on their religion’s holy days. As aliens, the vast majority have no right to vote. “Now, with the increasing security, they search our houses – this is a very bad sign,” Samir said. “We hear all about the policies on integration, but we never seen any concrete measures.” They remain largely outsiders and, especially now, visitors to the Alhuda center and the surrounding Islamic shops were greeted with intense suspicion. Requests to interview the Imam were met with deflections and questions: Where are you from? Why do you want him? Samir, a Tunisian who has lived in Italy for 15 years, insists that he would report suspicious activity to the police. Asked if anyone from the Alhuda had attended the religious schools in Pakistan that have been a breeding ground for terrorists, he said: “Not that I know of, but they certainly wouldn’t tell me if they had.”

Muslims In Philly Shun Men Who Abuse Wives

By Kristin E. Holmes PHILADELPHIA — The veil shrouding spouse abuse in Muslim families is being torn away by some mosque leaders — putting them at the forefront of efforts by American Muslims to stem domestic violence. The Philadelphia clergy council — known as the Majlis Ash’Shura of Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley — has adopted a tough policy of public shunning of Muslims who abuse their spouses or abandon their families. Under the initiative, adopted in May, offenders will go on a list circulated among area Muslims. They will be banned from future marriages in communities that adhere to the policy. Fellow Muslims will be discouraged from patronizing any businesses they own. “We need to take a public stand,” said Imam Isa Abdul-Mateen, secretary of the Majlis Ash’Shura, an association of 30 imams. “We want people to know that this will not be tolerated.” In coming months, the council will address issues such as the criteria for putting names on the list and safeguards to protect spouses who step forward. Domestic violence appears no more prevalent in Muslim communities than elsewhere, but Islamic advocacy groups and others have tried to push the problem into the open. With the new policy, Philadelphia leaps over other Muslim communities that are just starting to confront the issue, said Maha Alkhateeb, project manager of the Peaceful Families Project, a Virginia-based nonprofit that addresses domestic violence among Muslims. A striking aspect of the initiative is that it was started not by female advocates but by the male leadership, said Amina Wadud, author of “Qur’an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text From a Woman’s Perspective.” “This is setting a new precedent, globally.” The Rev. Marie Fortune of the FaithTrust Institute in Seattle, a leading domestic-violence policy center, said she knew of no other religious community in the country that had “so specific and rigorous” a policy. Within Muslim families, domestic violence remains largely a taboo subject, Alkhateeb said. Some Muslims deny its existence in a faith in which men are supposed to be protectors of women and children. Some immigrant families are too focused on building a better life to deal with the issue. Activists also cite a widespread reluctance to air problems and expose fellow Muslims to public scandal. As a consequence, there is little data on the extent of the problem. One study, done in 2000, surveyed 500 Arab women in Dearborn, Mich., and found that 18 percent to 20 percent said they had suffered spouse abuse, a rate similar to that in the general population. Approximately 98 percent of the sample was Muslim, said Anahid Kulwicki, a professor at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., who did the study. There are signs that Muslims are awakening to the problem. A group of imams signed a pledge to fight domestic violence at a recent Peaceful Families conference in Washington. A turning point in Philadelphia may have come in 2001 when a city police officer killed his wife and then himself. Both were Muslims, and the incident shook the Muslim community, said Taalibah Kariem-White, of Germantown, a domestic-violence expert who lectures nationally on the issue. The policy applies to both men and women. Though there are few female batterers, Mateen envisions the sanctions applying to women who make or threaten false claims to police or vindictively deny a man visitation with his children.

U.K. Muslims At Forefront Of Terror Fight

By BRIAN MURPHY A packed mosque, an influential cleric and powerful denunciations against violence in the name of Islam: The scene was exactly what British authorities want to see. “We must save Islam from the dark forces of hate,” shouted the preacher to more than 2,000 men and boys in the grand Gamkol Sharif mosque. But this new kind of jihad will test the faith like no other, warned Mufti Muhammad Gul Rehman Qadri, who heads Britain’s largest Sunni Muslim coalition. This holy war is Muslim vs. Muslim. “Be strong,” said Qadri, thumping his cane into the crimson carpet. He then read the first major fatwa, or religious edict, condemning suicide bombings and the July 7 attacks against the London Underground that killed at least 56 people. The gathering last week is at the heart of a broad – and closely watched – British strategy that seeks to reach directly into Islam’s angry fringe. Mainstream Muslim leaders are being pushed hard to lead the way. The idea is to rouse Islam’s moderate majority, using its moral and spiritual clout to crush extremist ideology in one of the faith’s most important outposts in western Europe, where some forecasts say the Muslim population could double to nearly 30 million, or close to 8 percent of the population, within the decade. At the same time, Muslim envoys and clerics are being drawn into uncomfortable watchdog roles – asked to assist authorities in ways much sharper and stronger than after the attacks in Spain last year or even in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. And they must do it in the world’s most diverse Muslim community: about 1.6 million strong with roots in every corner of the Islamic world. This week’s developments can only ratchet up the pressure: Another attempt on Thursday by attackers to blow up three subway trains and a bus – an eerie if failed replay of the deadly July 7 strikes – followed by the anti-terror shooting of a man in an underground station. The long-range hope of the Muslim policing effort is that anti-Western preachers and factions around Britain will eventually wither under internal pressure. Success in Britain, the theory goes, could spark an intellectual assault against Islamic radicalism around the world. But it’s a mission with many serious complications. Not the least of which: How to open debate and dialogue with radical groups that are being driven further underground by police measures. “Moderate Muslims have been given a giant task,” said Ali Ansari, a professor of Islamic studies at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland. “The world is watching how they respond.” On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair met with top Muslim envoys and told them to “confront this evil ideology.” “Take it on,” Blair said, “and defeat it by the force of reason.” Yet relying on such Western-style arguments is another weak point of the effort. The strains of Islam that see violence as a legitimate tool have deep roots with their own logic and perspectives – often developed as a rejection to what they consider flaws in modern Islam. One of the most pervasive is an Egyptian-born movement called el-Takfir wa el-Hirja, which has provided underpinnings for groups including al-Qaida and professes to shun anyone perceived as against “pure” Islam or “corrupted” by Western ways. This would include clerics working alongside British officials. Also, radicals often draw strength in their distance from the mainstream, portraying themselves as the shepherds for struggling Muslims in Britain and champions for broader Muslim causes such as the Palestinian self-determination, opposition to the Iraqi war and battlefronts in Chechnya and Kashmir. Sheik Omar Bakri, a hardline cleric who has described suicide bombings as an acceptable weapon by Iraqi insurgents, claimed Britain is seeking to “divide and rule” Muslims. “So we’re left with moderate Muslims preaching to moderate Muslims. That gets us nowhere,” said Lord Nazir Ahmed, a Muslim member of Britain’s House of Lords who has supported the deportation of extremist preachers. “We have to get in there and smash this violent ideology. It is a cult, not a part of real Islam. Words aren’t enough.” The gathering in Birmingham showed the limitations. Inside the mosque – which towers over a mostly Muslim district – Britain’s largest Sunni Muslim coalition denounced radicals from all angles. Clerics called any violence a sin and terrorism “an ideology alien to Islam’s core values.” The fatwa went further: “The attacks in London have no Islamic justification, are totally condemned and we equally condemn those who have been behind the masterminding of these acts” – which claimed at least 56 lives and, like 9/11, has entered the British lexicon as 7/7. A few blocks away, however, another kind of meeting was taking place. Four young men sat in an Islamic bookstore to finish hand-drawn fliers to protest the “crimes against Muslims” – a list including the occupation of Iraq, Palestinian struggles and the perception of a permanent underclass status for Britain’s Muslims. They titled the missives: “The two sides of 7/7.” “No one can condone the attacks in London,” said one of the men, who gave his name only as Munir. “But you also can’t ignore the feelings of Muslims and the pain they sense. We have to look a lot deeper than just condemning violence.” Some question if the moderate Muslim leadership in Britain is willing to go in that direction. It moves them toward some awkward choices – making distinctions between terrorism and what’s considered legitimate Islamic struggles. “It gets awfully messy when you try to rank violence,” said Gholam Rabbani, who leads a mosque in Walthamstow, east of central London. “We can’t say a suicide attack by Palestinians is acceptable, but one in London or Madrid are not. We have to say it’s always wrong.” But this is where radical Islam often finds its footing. London-based clerics such as Abu Hamza al-Masri quickly gained a wide following by praising attacks against Israel and U.S.-led forces in Iraq. Al-Masri, who is awaiting trial on charges of incitement to murder, has been linked to terror suspects, including Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in the United States with crimes related to the Sept. 11 attacks, and “shoe bomber” Richard Reid. A reported associate of Al-Masri also is being sought in connection with the London blasts. At the request of British officials, authorities in Pakistan are searching for Haroon Rashid Aswat, who reportedly had been in close contact with the suicide bombers. Aswat, 31, is of Indian origin and his whereabouts are unknown. “Young people have drifted away (from the mainstream) either because they were banned to discuss controversial issues in the mosque or found nothing inspiring on offer there,” said Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, a leading London-based Muslim activist. A report last week by two respected British institutions – the Royal Institute of International Affairs and Economic and Social Research Council – concluded that the situation in Iraq had given “a boost to the al-Qaida network’s propaganda, recruitment and fund-raising” and provided a training ground for al-Qaida-linked terrorists. On Tuesday, the group that claimed responsibility for the London bombings threatened to continue “a bloody war” on Denmark, Britain, Italy and other European countries unless their troops are removed from Iraq within a month. The authenticity of the statement by the Abu Hafs al Masri Brigades could not be verified. But the Blair government has repeatedly rejected the widely held opinion that Iraq played a role in the bombings. The stance was seen by some as another blow to the credibility of the moderate Muslim leaders working closely with authorities. “They are not speaking the language of the people; the language of the streets, the language of the youth,” said Hanif Malik, a Muslim community leader in Leeds – the northern city that was home to three of the four suicide bombers. “We’re afraid they will miss a chance to reach the Muslims who are at the most risk of following the misguided call of violence.” Even if moderate leaders’ outreach efforts were more successful,
they still might not be enough, said Peter Singer, who studies Western policy outreach to the Islamic world at the Brookings Institution in Washington. What’s needed is a strategy similar to fighting an insurgency, which requires an overall shift in laws and attitudes aimed at choking off Islamic extremists. “Britain has to decide whether it’s trying to influence the individual or influence the environment that has allowed this radicalism to exist,” said Singer. “The key to success is changing the environment to make radical Islam completely unacceptable. … It’s not just draining the swamp. You have to poison the sea.” Part of this attempt could be new laws to target hate speech and other forms of religious extremism. Proposals for the bill, which could enter parliament as early as September, include regulations demanding self-policing among Muslim groups such as requiring background checks on imams and closer scrutiny of financial records. “The Muslim community has to act,” said a government statement. “You have to harness the energies of the moderate Muslim community.” But there’s also potential risks in asking Muslims to pick sides. “You could set up an ideological war within Britain’s Muslims,” said Carl Ernst, a specialist in Islamic affairs at the University of North Carolina. “You’ll have people going into mosques to see who is a `good’ Muslim and who is a `bad’ Muslim. This could be even more dangerous and terribly divisive.” It also raises the chance of “group punishment” if moderate Muslims are seen as failing the difficult task of reining in radicals, said Ernst. It’s a worry that hasn’t been lost on Muslim leaders calling for a groundswell against violence. “This time the British society has given you the benefit of the doubt,” said Sunni Council spokesman Sardar Ahmed Qadri in a speech at the Birmingham mosque. “If you don’t stand up now, the next time it could be different. Our mosques could be targeted. Our institutions could be targeted. Our communities could be targeted. I beg you: stand up and speak out.”

Outcry As British Muslims Are Blamed

By MICHAEL SETTLE and BILLY BRIGGS LORD Stevens, former chief of the Metropolitan Police, was last night accused of stirring up racial hatred after he claimed British Muslim extremists were “almost certainly” responsible for the London bombings. Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission in London, insisted the ex-police chief’s claims were unfounded and threw suspicion on all Muslims in the UK. “He has, without doubt, stirred up racial tensions at a time when we need unity.” Sir Iqbal Sacranie, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, added: “I cannot imagine what prompted him to make these comments. Up until recently he has been working in an organisation that is trying hard to improve race relations, then he says something as problematic and unhelpful as this. It simply amazes me.” Police said yesterday there had been some incidents of religious or racially motivated hate crime since the attacks and one report involving a serious injury, although they gave no further details. In a newspaper article, headlined: “Young, clever . . . and British,” Lord Stevens wrote that any hope the attackers came from abroad was “dangerous wishful thinking”. He argued: “I’m afraid there’s a sufficient number of people in this country willing to be Islamic terrorists that they don’t have to be drafted in from abroad. “We have already convicted two British shoe bombers, Richard Reid and Saajid Badat, and there were the two British suicide bombers, Asif Hanif and Omar Sharif, who killed themselves in Israel.” The bombers, suggested the ex-police chief, would be “apparently ordinary British citizens, young men conservatively and cleanly dressed and probably with some higher education. Highly computer literate, they will have used the internet to research explosives, chemicals and electronics. They are also willing to kill without mercy – and to take a long time in their planning. They are painstaking, cautious, clever, and very sophisticated.” Lord Stevens claimed up to 3000 British-born or British-based people passed through Osama bin Laden’s training camps over the years. “Plainly not all went on to become active Islamic terrorists back in the UK. But some have. And others have passed on their training to the next generation.” He forecast the bombings would “unleash a tidal wave” of information from the Muslim community. However, Mr Shadjareh said Lord Stevens’s report “suggests there is a network of conspiracy among us and that many of us knew what was going on, rather than the fact this was done by a few misguided individuals”. He added: “Lord Stevens’s past as commissioner of the Metropolitan Police adds an air of reality to what he says, but where is his evidence? All this article does is justify anti-Islamic attacks.” George Galloway, the anti-Iraq war MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, also dismissed the peer’s claims. “He had no idea who carried this atrocity out, whether they were home-grown or flew in that morning . . . he wasn’t the commissioner on the day the explosion occurred, he is a retired police officer. He has no idea who carried out that crime. I would rather listen to the existing commissioner,” said the former Glasgow back-bencher. Asked at a press conference about the former Met chief’s comments, Brian Paddick, deputy assistant commissioner, said: “We are aware of Lord Stevens’s comments. Clearly, we are not ruling out any possibility as to who these suspects are.” Later, a spokesman for the Church of England came to Lord Stevens’s defence, saying it respected his authority on terrorism and his views expressed in the newspaper. “Lord Stevens is quite clearly talking about extremists, not the bulk of the Muslim community. What he is saying is something no-one would challenge. These are extremists and they do not adhere to the beliefs that members of the faith do. He has a far greater experience than most people on the matter.” The Association of Chief Police Officers in England said community relations in Britain were “reassuringly calm” in the wake of the attacks. Incidents reported by individual police forces included arson attacks on mosques in Leeds, Belvedere, Telford and Birkenhead which caused little damage. In addition, there was evidence of some verbal abuse in the street, and some criminal damage to cars, businesses and homes.

Man Shot Dead ‘Not Connected To Terror Attacks’

The man shot dead on an Underground train in south London on Friday was not connected to attempted terror attacks on the capital, said police. The statement came as it emerged that police have been given secret new shoot-to-kill guidelines in recent weeks. The dead man was named as Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year old electrician from Brazil. Mr Menezes, who lived in Brixton, south London, had been working legally in Britain for three years. This is a tragedy. The Metropolitan Police accepts full responsibility for this. To the family I can only express my deep regrets, Sir Ian Blair, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, told Sky News on Sunday. The shooting happened in Stockwell on Friday morning when armed plain clothes police officers shot a man as he tried to board a train at the Underground station. He had emerged from a house under surveillance following Thursday’s attempted bomb attacks on three Tube trains and a bus. New shoot-to-kill guidelines for armed police and surveillance officers confronting suspected suicide terrorists advise them to shoot to the head and not the body in case the suspect has a bomb. Sir Ian on Sunday admitted the police had a shoot-to-kill policy to deal with suicide bombers and that it would continue. Somebody else could be shot. But everything is done to make it right,” he said. Friday morning’s shooting at Stockwell came as the hunt continued for terrorists behind bomb attacks that have killed more than 50 people. Over the weekend police questioned two men arrested in connection with the attacks. The admission by the police that the dead man was not connected to the terror attacks will stoke debate over counter-terrorism tactics and the implication that police were operating a so-called shoot-to-kill policy against suspected terrorists. On Friday night the London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission called for a public enquiry into the shooting in Stockwell. This is an extra-judicial killing by police who have been trained in shoot-to-kill, it said. The police now face inquiries into their actions that could hit morale, and the Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating the Stockwell shooting. Sir Ian said the force was confronting what he called its greatest operational challenge ever. They faced previously unknown threats and great danger, he added as he appealed for the understanding of all communities. Sir Ian said the dead man had been challenged and refused to obey police instructions. Police raided at least three addresses in London on Friday and made two arrests. Police Issue Pictures Of Four Bomb Suspects Police released closed circuit TV pictures of the four suspects and sought public assistance as forensic work continued on what appeared to be home-made explosive devices used on Thursday. A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers said on Friday night a special project group had developed operational tactics to help police respond swiftly and effectively to such threats. The guidelines were secretly developed in consultation with police forces including Israel, Russia and the US.

Quarter Of British Muslims Sympathise With Bombers’ Motives: Poll

LONDON (AFP) – Around a quarter of British Muslims have some sympathy with the motives of the London bombers, if not their methods, while a third believe Western society is “immoral,” according to a new poll. The survey in the Daily Telegraph asked the Muslim-only respondents whether they felt the July 7 blasts in which 56 peopled died, including the suicide bombers, were “justified”, to which six percent said they were. In contrast, 71 percent said they were not justified at all, with 11 percent saying they were “on balance” not justified. However, when asked whether they had sympathy with the “feelings and motives” of the four British Muslim bombers, disregarding their methods, 13 percent said they had a lot of sympathy and a further 11 percent had a little. While 81 percent said they were fairly loyal or very loyal to Britain, the survey also found some equivocal feelings towards Western society more generally. Just one percent of the respondents agreed with the statement: “Western society is decadent and immoral, and Muslims should seek to bring it to an end, if necessary by violence.” However, another 31 percent backed the sentiment when the reference to violence was replaced by “but only by non-violent means”. In a similar poll for The Sun newspaper, 91 percent of the all-Muslim respondents said they did not feel the suicide bombings were justified by the Koran, the Islamic holy book. Just over half felt Islam was compatible with modern British society, but a similar number felt that the attacks ran the risk of turning other communities against British Muslims.