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Islamic Networks Group (ING) and its Affiliates across the nation condemn in the strongest possible terms the extremist attacks on U.S. diplomatic compounds in Libya and Egypt on Tuesday, September 11th, one of which killed U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stephens along with three of his staff members. The parties responsible for these events in both nations claimed to be reacting to an online film considered offensive to Islam.
As with previous instances of the Danish cartoons or Qur’an burning, it is important to emphasize that it is a greater defamation of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an to react with violence and murder of innocent people– one of the greatest sins in Islam–than any claimed insult from an Islamophobic film. Those who responded in such a manner should instead study the Prophet Muhammad’s example in the face of harm. On a daily basis, Muhammad was exposed to demeaning abuse for 13 years during the early years of his mission. His response was not to return insult for insult or hurt for hurt, but to pray for his persecutors and overlook their insults. In a famous Islamic tradition, he stated: “It is not allowed to cause harm to others or to return harm for harm.”
It is also an Islamic principle that one does not blame or punish another for the crimes of another. The employees at the embassies were in no way responsible for the actions of either Terry Jones or the producers of the film. Such extreme responses, in fact, can only help Islamophobic interests. Such actions and reactions are but a useless cycle of hate that benefit no one and as occurred yesterday, can be potentially dangerous and even deadly.
ING and its Affiliates are committed to upholding the right to freedom of expression and unconditionally condemn any use of violence as a means to protest offensive or hateful speech. In the United States, this fundamental, inalienable right is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The answer to speech we find deeply offensive is more speech — speech that tells the true story of Islam — not censorship or violence. Acts of violence carried out in the name of Islam are a greater offense against Islam than the content of any film or speech.
ING President Maha Elgenaidi urges both fellow Muslims and fellow Americans to “Work together for a more peaceful world and take this opportunity to redouble efforts towards peace and harmony through increased outreach, dialogue, and understanding.”