LONDON, England (AP) — Muslim leaders and scholars met at London’s largest mosque to condemn the July 7 terrorist attacks in the British capital, saying the perpetrators violated the Quran by killing innocent civilians and that no one should consider them martyrs.
But the 22 imams and scholars stopped short of condemning all suicide bombings, saying those that target occupying forces in countries such as Israel and Iraq are sometimes justified.
“There should be a clear distinction between the suicide bombing of those who are trying to defend themselves from occupiers, which is something different from those who kill civilians, which is a big crime,” said Sayed Mohammed Musawi, the head of the World Islamic League in London.
“The media in the West are mixing the difference between these two, and the result is that some of our Muslim youth are becoming more frustrated and they think that both are the same, even though Muslim law forbids killing any innocent lives.”
He spoke at a news conference that the leaders and scholars held Friday at the London Central Mosque after reading their statement condemning the July 7 attacks, and everyone in the group appeared to agree with Musawi.
In their statement, which quoted the Quran, the imams and scholars said the terrorism in London by a small group of radicals had victimized Muslims around the world by raising “Islamophobia” among the general public.
“We are firmly of the view that these killings had absolutely no sanction in Islam, nor is there any justification whatsoever in our noble religion for such evil actions. It is our understanding that those who carried out the bombings in London should in no sense be regarded as martyrs,” the statement said.
It urged all Muslims and non-Muslims to help authorities investigate the crime and to punish those who helped plan the atrocity.
The statement also said that racism, unemployment and economic deprivation that Muslims face in poor sections of cities such as Leeds — where three of the suspected bombers lived — “may be alienating some of our children and driving them toward the path of anger and desperation” in ways that are prohibited by Islam.
The statement did not mention the fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel or Chechnya, but it urged “the international community to work toward just and lasting peace settlements in the world’s areas of conflict and help eliminate the grievances that seem to nurture a spiral of violence.”
Because the London attacks have been linked by the media to Islam, the statement said, they have damaged relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in Britain and undermined long-standing interfaith efforts by Christian, Jewish and Muslim groups.
By portraying the terrorist attacks as a Muslim problem, the media have engaged in “character assassinations” of Muslim scholars and “denigration” of the Muslim community, the statement said.