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Muslim leaders: Let case play out in court

Posted July 28, 2009

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— Representatives of the Triangle Muslim community said Tuesday that the public shouldn't judge seven men federal authorities have accused of being terrorists until the case goes to trial.

Federal agents rounded up the men Monday at various area locations after a grand jury indicted them last week on charges they conspired over the last three years to provide resources to terrorists overseas. The indictment alleges several of them went to Israel in 2007 to engage in "violent jihad" and returned home only after their mission failed.

Khalilah Sabra, Muslim American Society Wife, Muslim officials react to terror arrests

"Anytime someone from the Muslim community is indicted on charges, it affects all of us," said Khalilah Sabra, state executive director of the Muslim American Society. "We know that Islam is always under a microscope, and these types of situations cause the religion to be misinterpreted."

Sabra and Jihad Shawwa, an official with the Muslim American Public Affairs Council, said people should allow the case to play out in court before judging the defendants – or their religion.

"We do believe in the justice system in this country, although it's not the Bible, it's not the Qur'an and it's not the Torah," Shawwa said.

Muslims take the charges against the men seriously and want them prosecuted if the evidence against them supports the government's allegations, Sabra said.

"It's not one for all and all for one," she said. "If a Muslim is indicted on any charge – whether it's for grand theft auto or terrorism – we believe that the justice system has to do what it has to do, and we support the justice system in doing that."

Still, she said, Muslims don't want to be unfairly characterized by the public, and officials don't want people to assume the men are guilty before all of the facts in the case come out.

"We're asking for fair and impartial justice," she said. "We don't want a rush to judgment. We want every charge they're indicted with to be looked at, to be weighed, to be explained in a court of law, and let a jury come to its determination."

The Muslim community doesn't support extremist views, Sabra said, although she said she recognizes that some members of her religion might harbor such views.

"If someone has a particular ideology, and they choose to practice that ideology in extreme ways, we as the Muslim community and organizations have nothing to do with that," she said. "We all have a responsibility – non-Muslim and Muslim alike – for curing these things and entering into dialog so that these incidents don't occur and there are no future allegations."

U.S. Attorney George Holding issued a statement Tuesday saying that the arrests shouldn't be construed as an indictment against Islam.

"We are fortunate to have such a rich and diverse culture in North Carolina. The Islamic faith is vital in this state, as many Muslims serve as soldiers, police officers, doctors, teachers and scholars," Holding said. "These arrests pertain to certain people who did certain things that we believe rose to a level of a serious crime, not because of their religious beliefs."

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  • dwf1205 Jul 29, 2009

    Let's hope we get to *see* this play out in court, and that the proceedings aren't secret, and that these men get to face their accuser. Let's hope that warrantless wiretaps or any other blatantly Unconstitutional activities played no part in this indictment.

  • anneonymousone Jul 28, 2009

    When I heard the phrase "militant Buddhists" on the news a few years ago, that nailed it for me; no human group is immune---whether united by geography, culture, religion or any other identifier. No human group is immune to extremism and personal or collective insanity.

    My understanding of Islam (and I am no expert) is that there is no centralized religious authority, which would be necessary for excommunication. (A quick online search proved me right, and how I adore being right!)

    For more knowledgable sources, look up the word "takfir" on a good search engine and look for sources you trust.

  • WifeMomNurse Jul 28, 2009

    I would encourage everyone to watch the video.
    The speaker's words are chosen very carefully & I find it disconcerting that she repeatedly claims that the Muslim community has nothing to do with extremist or violent views of a Muslim member. Nothing to do with? She doesn't say We do not condone, or do not approve, or do not agree with extremeist views from Muslims. You might as well say We turn a blind eye to, or We can't be responsible for, or You can't prove anything. So, you have nothing to do with it? Very poor choice of words if you want to distance yourself from the violent ones.

  • Clownsruletheworld Jul 28, 2009

    Very big fan of the Bill of Rights, but not a big fan of quarreling with fools. Have a pleasant evening.

  • Clownsruletheworld Jul 28, 2009

    I mean really, if someone from my church was getting ready to get out and murder people for religious reasons, I would call the cops immediately, because they would be obviously insane.

  • ThinkChick Jul 28, 2009

    Clownsruletheworld...so you are not a fan of the Bill of Rights then?

  • Clownsruletheworld Jul 28, 2009

    Religious nuts of ANY persuasion are a menace to society! Anybody who is arrogant enough to think that their god wants them to commit violence in his name would ordinarily be worthy of nothing but contempt, if not for the potential trouble they might cause.

  • ThinkChick Jul 28, 2009

    thatsgreat - they do have a right to their day in court.
    colliedave - I have wondered that myself. Why do they keep company with them? I cannot remember a provision for excommunication in the Koran or the Hadiths though I am sure there is some equivalent.

  • working for deadbeats Jul 28, 2009

    Guilty. Hang'em for treason.

  • colliedave Jul 28, 2009

    The Muslim community doesn't support extremist views, Sabra said, although she said she recognizes that some members of her religion might harbor such views.

    Then why doesn't their community excommunicate these members?