Arab-Americans and Muslims call for peace; plan memorial at Dearborn mosque

As Arab-Americans and Muslims across metro Detroit urged unity and peace, one of Dearborn’s biggest mosques is holding a memorial service Saturday for the victims of the Boston terror attacks

“As Muslims, this is not how we’re supposed to be acting,” Bilal Amen of Dearborn, who’s helping organize the memorial service, said of the attacks in Boston and other places around the world. “We want to stand united for all people who are victims of terror.”

The Islamic Institute of Knowledge in Dearborn plans to hold the event at 9 p.m. Saturday as a way to express solidarity with terror victims in Boston, as well as in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, where terrorists have killed civilians. The two Boston attack suspects are reportedly Muslim.

Amen said that Islam teaches its followers to respect the laws of any country you live in.

“We’re Muslims, but we’re American,” he said. “The Quran tells us to abide by the laws of our land…we’re in America and follow American laws.”

Today, the Dearborn-based National Network for Arab American Communities released a statement saying “our thoughts and condolences continue to be with the victims of the Boston Marathon attacks. We are grateful to the brave first responders and law enforcement officers, who endangered their own lives.”

It also said that “we urge the media and the public to refrain from scapegoating or turning against our fellow Americans based on their racial, ethnic, religious or immigrant identity.”

Amen and others said they were concerned about potential backlash towards Muslims and others after the Boston attacks. A contributor to Fox News wrote online on Monday of Muslims: “Let’s kill them all.”

Amen said such remarks reveal a misunderstanding of Islam.

“Anyone who knows the Muslim religion knows that we don’t preach hate,” Amen said.

Arif Huskic, a Muslim leader in Hamtramck, said that like other Muslims, “I feel really bad” about the Boston attacks. “I never thought something like could happen, repeating 9/11.”

Also today, the director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has a Michigan chapter, strongly condemned the attacks and called for unity.

“Americans are united today in condemning terrorism and in the conviction that those responsible for the terrorist attacks in Boston must face justice,” said Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council. “We reiterate the American Muslim community’s consistent condemnation of terrorism in all its forms.”

Awad added that “America will stay united. We will not turn on each other.”

Dawud Walid, who heads the Michigan branch of the Council, said “we don’t have a high level of fear of backlash against the Muslim community, but…there is always the possibility of a few loose cannons who could seek vigilante justice against a random Muslim.”

Amen said that one of the themes of Saturday night’s banquet in Dearborn is: “Terrorism has no religion.”




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