WASHINGTON – American Muslims welcomed the arrest of a suspect in New York and New Jersey recent bombings, stressing their position against terrorism and urging unity in the face of retaliatory attacks that might target the religious minority.
“We welcome the arrest of the suspect in this case and hope this ends the series of potentially-deadly incidents,” Nihad Awad, the National Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a statement sent to AboutIslam.net.
“American Muslims, like all Americans reject extremism and violence, and seek a safe and secure nation.”
The statement followed the arrest of Ahmad Khan Rahami, a 28-year-old Afghan immigrant, as the lead suspect in bombings in New York and New Jersey.
Sentiments were high even before Rahami’s arrest, with social media being awash with anti-Muslim slurs and threats.
A twitter campaign launched to support Muslims, #DearMuslims, was hijacked to spread fear and hatred instead.
Fearing reprisal attacks targeting Muslims, Awad urged unity in the face of fear mongering.
“Our nation is most secure when we remain united and reject the fear-mongering and guilt by association often utilized following such attacks,” he said.
“We stand together with our fellow Americans in New York, New Jersey and Minnesota as we deal with the troubling phenomenon of domestic terrorism.”
CAIR-NJ Executive Director Jim Sues said: “We thank the law enforcement agencies involved in the apprehension of this suspect for their swift and professional actions.”
“We urge all New Yorkers and Americans across the nation to stand in solidarity against intolerance aimed at dividing communities,” said CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher.
Nasher added that CAIR has noted a spike in anti-Muslim discrimination and hate crimes in recent months, which the civil rights group attributes at least in part to Islamophobic rhetoric used by various public figures, like Donald Trump, who today renewed his call for racial and religious profiling of Americans.
In Minnesota, Muslim leaders denounced stabbings as un-Islamic.
“The Minnesota Muslim community condemns all such acts of violence as inexcusable and un-Islamic,” said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the CAIR chapter in Minnesota, prior to a news conference Sunday, according to CAIR.
“We are hopeful that the community will come together in a difficult tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
During the press conference held by members of the Somali and Muslim community on Sunday, Hussein reminded people that the Somali Muslim community in the region has been targeted by a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment and emphasized that the stabbing incident was isolated.
“We are also concerned about the potential backlash to this community. We understand in St. Cloud there is more anti-Muslim organizing, and we hope that they will not use this instance as a way to continue to polarize, divide, and spread fear in our communities,” declared Hussein.
“This is a tragedy that affects all people in St. Cloud, and this is an opportunity for our communities to come together.”
Mohamoud Mohamed, a spokesman for the Central Minnesota Islamic Center in St. Cloud, stressed during the press conference Sunday that the central Minnesota Muslim community has no relationship with ISIS or any other “Islamic terrorist group.”
“We are the victims of those terrorist groups,” he proclaimed. “Islam is peace… I pray for the victims.”