PATERSON – Facing calls to apologize after any attack by any individual who seems remotely Muslim, American Muslim leaders have denounced the double-standards and hypocrisy of American society these days.
“Every time one of these idiots does something they claim to be doing in whatever religion, our community is forced — there’s a sense of obligation — that we have to come out and condemn it, which I believe is unfair,” Salah Mustafa, outreach director at the Islamic Center of Passaic County, a mosque in Paterson, told North Jersey.
“It’s not as if other communities have to condemn these acts.”
Mustafa spoke about his concerns after Sunday’s mass shooting in a church in San Antonio in which more than 26 victims were killed.
The attack was not labeled terrorism and no religious leaders were called to apologize.
“If someone is saying ‘Allahu Akbar’ and doing this in the name of Islam, we have to remind people that the vast majority of Muslims regard this as a perversion of Islam,” said James Sues, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, referring to the popular Arabic phrase meaning “God is the greatest.”
“I can’t imagine any line of logic that supports the ideology that says killing innocent people is a good thing.
“I hope that day will come soon where we are not forced to stand up and make claims against someone who we have nothing to do with and we reject, he or she, everything that they have done,” Mustafa said. “We absolutely reject it.”
In the hours after the shooting Sunday, many flocked to social media to question why the Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs attackers weren’t being called terrorists.
“You’d be hard-pressed to tell me those people were not terrorized,” said Sues. “Those people in Las Vegas at that concert were certainly terrorized. The fact they were not called ‘terrorist’ by everybody — that kind of exposed the fact that ‘terrorism’ is a word reserved exclusively for Muslims.”
The bias extends even beyond the terrorism label, said some critics, noting that attacks by Muslims get far more media attention.
Such attacks receive more than five times as much media coverage as those carried out by non-Muslims in the United States, according to a July study by researchers at Georgia State University.
The impact of any attack committed by a so-called Muslim affects the entire Muslim community in the country.
Following the recent New York City attack, three New Jersey mosques reported that they received calls threatening violence and arson.
Mohammad Ali Chaudry, the head of the New Jersey Interfaith Coalition, representing around 150 groups, issued a statement to “condemn unequivocally and in the strongest possible way the terrorist attack committed in New York.”
Chaudry, the president of a mosque in Basking Ridge, said he was frustrated with the way Muslims were treated and with the “double standards” that justify calling a Muslim attacker a “terrorist” before an investigation is even done.
“When the shooter is white, ‘Oh, it’s a domestic dispute and had nothing to with anything else.’ When it’s a Muslim name, it’s automatically terrorism and we start calling them animals,” he said, referring to a comment by President Donald Trump calling Saipov a “degenerate animal.”
“It’s incredible,” Chaudry said. “Look, most of these acts are being committed by non-Muslim whites.”
Imam Mohammad Qatanani, who leads the Islamic Center of Passaic County, confirmed that Muslims alone shouldn’t be asked to condemn attacks because “it is not related to Islam or to our way.”
“We have to stand up together … There is not any justification. There is no tolerance for terrorist attacks or any hatred crimes,” he said.
The Islamic Center of Passaic County saw its attendance at Friday prayers drop 15 to 20 percent.
“To Trump and others who are in the leadership of this country,” Qatanani said, “we want you to understand that Muslims are part of this county. We are all one.”