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Muslims here express outrage

Houston Chronicle, USA
June 19, 2004
Rhea Davis and Joe Stinebaker
www.chron.com

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Saturday June 19, 2004

Denounce al-Qaida’s beheading of an American hostage

Hours after an al-Qaida group announced the killing of American hostage Paul Johnson on Friday, Muslims expressed outrage locally at the second beheading linked to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Islam / Islamism

Islamism is a totalitarian ideology adhered to by Muslim extremists (e.g. the Taliban, Wahhabis, Hamas and Osama bin Laden). It is considered to be a distortion of Islam. Many Islamists engage in terrorism in pursuit of their goals.

Adherents of Islam are called “Muslims.” The term “Arab” describes an ethnic or cultural identity. Not all Arabs are Muslims, and not all Muslims are Arabs. The terms are not interchangeable.

Muslim Democrats from around the state were in a caucus at the Texas Democratic Party’s convention in Houston when the news broke of Johnson’s beheading.

Dr. Inayat Lalani, a retired surgeon from Fort Worth and the head of the caucus, said he and other members “absolutely, categorically and vehemently denounce” the killing.

“This was the act of some brutal people who have nothing to do with decency. We completely repudiate that. That is not Islam,” he said.

The remains of the 49-year-old Johnson, an electronics engineer who worked for Lockheed Martin Corp., were found north of Saudi Arabia’s capital city of Riyadh on Friday. Photos of his bloody body were shown on an Islamic Web site.

Hours later, Saudi authorities announced they had surrounded and killed the men responsible for Johnson’s death, including the reputed ringleader of the al-Qaida cell that kidnapped him.

At a small shopping center along Hillcroft in southwest Houston that caters to Indian and Pakistani communities, Muslims expressed a similar sentiment.

“What’s going on in Saudi Arabia is horrible,” said Mushtaq Qureshi, a 48-year-old Houston resident who came to the United States from Pakistan 15 years ago. “We don’t like the Taliban or the terrorists who are doing this. We just want to live in peace and love.”

Qureshi said he sometimes worried about being victimized for his religious beliefs, but did not think he was in more danger in the wake of Friday’s killing.

Many Americans, he said, have misperceptions about his religion.

Kamran Jilani, who arrived in the United States from Pakistan four years ago, said many Muslims are scared about the events unfolding in the Arab world.

Jilani said he was not concerned about a backlash against Muslims after Friday’s killing.

Mohammad Zee, 42, said he never felt afraid in the United States because he thinks the majority of Americans are kind and respectful.

He said people need to understand that the terrorists who are killing Americans abroad are not following the tenets of Islam.

“Islam does not allow this type of killing,” he said. “Islam does not teach us to kill.”

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