US imam warns Muslims against violent overreaction to film
- September 16, 2012
AS ANTI-AMERICAN violence spread across the Muslim world, the imam of one of America’s largest mosques urged his congregation to combat bigotry with education, and paid tribute to the US ambassador Chris Stevens killed on Tuesday in Benghazi, Libya.
”We should not fall into the trap of people who want to portray Muslims as violent people,” Imam Mohamed Magid told hundreds of followers at the Adams Centre, Virginia, adding that the Californian man who made a film insulting the prophet Muhammad was trying to provoke a clash of civilizations.
The film was deeply offensive ”but we should not express our anger with violence and breaking things and taking innocent people’s lives”.
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Muslim leaders in the US have found themselves in the delicate position of having to explain – to their congregations and to non-Muslims – that the actions of the few do not represent the beliefs of the many.
As the violence escalated they underlined that message, not only for US Muslims but also for the rest of the Muslim world.
The executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Nihad Awad, said that last week he had done dozens of interviews with media outlets in Muslim countries. On Friday he joined a debate with organisers of the Egypt protests on a satellite news channel there.
”I told them the producers of the film [Innocence of Muslims] are not known, they’re amateur, they’re not recognised in the industry, and that what they have produced has not been shown in American theatres,” he said, adding that the organisers had heard the film was being broadcast widely in the US.
The council is also planning a public service announcement in Arabic condemning the violence and putting the film in context, he said.
Imam Magid, orgiinally from Sudan, was working on an Arabic language article on the topic and planned to speak about it on Sudanese television yesterday.
”I’m going to tell them this does not represent America, or the Christians, or the government,” he said. ”It’s one person who is representing bigotry through a film.”
As the congregation left the Adams Centre after the sermon, many were disturbed by both the film and the overheated response abroad. ”You don’t condemn a whole group for the actions of one,” said one worshipper, Fatah Hafassa. He said US Muslims did not appear to have reacted to the film with the same level of fury as they had abroad. ”I think they are educated enough not to fall into that trap.”
But Bahri Alireiza said not enough had been done in the US to condemn the film. ”I do believe in freedom of speech but this goes beyond that, it goes beyond the red line,” he said, adding that the US government should punish the filmmaker.
The Washington Post