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Chicago area Muslims react to killings in Libya, video about Muhammad

Updated: October 15, 2012 9:44AM



If the mob protesters who killed four Americans in Libya — including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens — were provoked by anti-Prophet Muhammad YouTube video, they “fell into a trap,” a local Muslim leader said Wednesday.

“It is absolutely outrageous. We firmly believe this was a cowardly act totally contradicting the teachings of Islam,” said Oussama Jammal, chairman of the Muslim American Society — Public Affairs and Civil Engagement in suburban Bridgeview.

Stevens was highly regarded by the Libyan people and helped them achieve independence from a dictator, he said.

The killing of Stevens and the three others at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya initially was presumed to have been a spontaneous act triggered by outrage over a movie called “Innocence of Muslims” that mocked Islam’s Prophet Muhammad and was produced in the United States and excerpted on YouTube. The amateurish video also drew protests in Egypt.

“If people had objections to a film about the Prophet Muhammad, they should exemplify his character of peace, passion and forgiveness instead of resorting to murder. Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance and respects the freedom of expression,” Jammel said. “This is more publicity than it deserves.”

The filmmakers’ intent was “to provoke,” and the protesters “fell into the trap,” Jammel said.

“They do not reflect the values of any religion,” he said. “We still have a long way to go to weed out extremists.”

American Muslims for Palestine, a national grass-roots organization with a base in Palos Hills, said Stevens and his staff were “innocent victims of the unacceptable violence that resulted from the release of an inflammatory trailer” for “Innocence of Muslims.”

The group condemned the “senseless violence” and said it is in no way sanctioned by Islam or by the examples of Muhammad, who always reacted with wisdom and peace when he was persecuted.

“The intention of many Islamophobic efforts such as this film is clearly to hurt relations between Americans and members of the Islamic world. We are heartened that President Barack Obama has clearly made the distinction between the perpetrators of the violence and the Libyan people and government,” said Dr. Osama Abu Irshaid, national board member for American Muslims for Palestine and editor of Al Mezan newspaper.

“We should be mature in our faith and not be so reactive when we see things like this in the media,” said W. Deen Mohammed, president of The Mosque Cares in Calumet City. “We should react with peace. Violence should never be a solution to our problems.”

Robin Mohammed, also of The Mosque Cares, said she hopes the incident will spark more talking, more peace and more education.

“Ignorance usually leads to violence,” she said.



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