PISCATAWAY, NJ – Leaders of New Jersey Muslim community groups gathered Tuesday at the Rutgers University Visitors Center to condemn the recent attacks in Paris, as well as those in Beirut and Bagdad. A collective statement was read that denounced the radical ideals of the terrorists and their extreme violent views and acts as commonly reported on by Western news agencies.
“Mosques and Islamic Centers in New Jersey have issued statements which are posted on their web sites,” said Dr. Ali Chaudry, president of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge. “We stand in solidarity with the people of France and express our deepest sympathy with the families of those who were killed and pray for the recovery of those injured in these horrific attacks,” Chaudry read from the condemnation.
Imams from various Mosques and Islamic Centers around the state expressed their concerns over the violent acts by the extremist groups, done in the name of the Qur’an.
“Every Muslim has to work towards world peace,” said Imam Mohammad Qatanani of the Islamic Center of Passaic County. “Islam is working with other faiths to build unity and to build us up,” he said.
“Islam is the religion of reaching out and building bridges with all countries and all ethnicities,” Qatanani continued. “My message to Muslims in the entire world is to teach their kids what is Islam, and what is Islam about.”
Masjid Waarith ud Deen’s Imam Wahy-ud Deen Shareef represents the Council of Imams in New Jersey and also spoke in condemnation of the attacks. “We mourn the deaths of the victims killed or injured in the violence in Paris,” he said. “These people (terrorists) are misrepresenting our Islam. When people use the term ‘Radical Islam’ it is an oxymoron. There are radical minds, and radical people, but Islam is Islam,” Shareef explained.
When asked if the Muslim leaders thought the ideas of bombing ISIS groups or putting troops on the ground should be responses to the attacks, Chaudry asked everyone to focus on the non-political aspects of what they were there to do as a community. “We’re here for one purpose: to express our indignation and our sorrow,” he said.
One Imam gave suggestions on how the government can address the situation. “First we have to solve the critical issues in Syria, in Yemen, in Iraq,” he said. “Second, any occupation or dictatorship is against us all; we have to stand for justice for the people and the Syrian refugees. They are victims like the others.”
Imam Shareef found it important to address the youth situation and their attraction to ISIS. “ISIS is focused on a population of people who are frustrated with their environmental, their social and their economic situations,” he said. “We are leaders who are missioned to reform and transform the souls and minds of human beings.”
Chaudry teaches the Islamic Studies class for the Islamic Society’s Sunday School, and said he always asks what the students would like to discuss. “We talk to them about ISIS so they are aware as to how to counter any of the propaganda that they may get online or on television,” he said.
Representatives from the US Attorney’s office and the New Jersey Homeland Security Office also attended the condemnation event.