Boston, 12 Jumadil Akhir/21 April 2013 (MINA) – While condemning violence and terrorism in the name of religion, Muslim leaders have urged Americans not to scapegoat the Muslim community following the Boston attacks.

      “We will never allow ourselves to be hijacked by this attempt,” Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) told a new conference on Friday, April 19 cited by The Washington Post.

       “We will not allow the perception to be that there is any religion in the world that condones the taking of innocent life.” Police arrested Friday a second suspect in twin bombings that rocked Boston Marathon earlier this week and killed at least three people and injured scores.

       The suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was found hiding in a boat in a suburban homeowner’s backyard. Police said they exchanged gunfire with the suspect, from Chechnya, after cornering him in Watertown, near Boston.

       Bomb-squad vans and ambulances surrounded the house, while helicopters buzzed overhead. Later on, police told journalists that the suspect was being treated at a Massachusetts hospital from serious gunshot wounds to the neck and leg.

        Police said the suspect had escaped on foot, apparently wounded, after a shootout that claimed the life of his elder brother, an alleged accomplice.

        American Muslim leaders have reiterated rejection of committing violence in the name of religion.

        “Just because they say they’re Muslim doesn’t make them Muslim,” Imam Benjamin Abdul-Haqq of Washington’s Masjid Muhammad mosque, told  the press conference convened by CAIR and other leading Muslim groups.

        “These are criminal acts, not religious acts.”
 quoted by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA) as reporting that along with Muslim leaders from CAIR, the conference was also attended by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Islamic Society of North America and other groups. Muslim attendees have expressed frustration that they are once again being forced to defend their faith against the actions of some extremists.

        “As a Muslim American community, we should not be held accountable for the acts of any individual,” said ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid.

 Scapegoated Muslims

        Muslim leaders appealed to the American public not to scapegoat the whole minority following the attacks. “Every faith has within it heretical elements, and unfortunately some young people will listen to those elements,” said CAIR spokesman Corey Saylor.

       “What you’re looking at now is a force that is pushing back against that loudly and clearly.”

       Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, also urged Americans to “reject scapegoating groups” based on their “racial, ethnic or religious identity.”

        “We strongly urge all Americans to reject scapegoating groups or targeting innocent Americans based on their racial, ethnic or religious identity,” Khera said in a public statement cited by Politico website.

        Linda Sarsour, the national advocacy director of the National Network for Arab American Communities, said that “an attack on one is an attack on all.”

       “The Arab American community stands in solidarity with the people of Boston and all Americans,” Sarsour said in a public statement.

        “We hope the takeaway from this tragic event is to deepen our relationships as Americans and protect each other from senseless hate-filled attacks.

        “An attack on one is an attack on us all.”

         Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to from 7-8 million Muslims. An earlier Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans Muslims are loyal to their country and optimistic about their future in the United States.

         Since the 9/11 attacks on the United States, many Muslims have complained of facing discrimination and stereotypes in the society because of their Islamic attires or identities.(T/P05/E1)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)

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