Muslim ‘rock star’ on terrorism

A leading American Islamic cleric is visiting Wales to examine the fight against terrorism.

Sheik Hamza Yusuf addressed 100 invited guests in a speech at Cardiff Castle on Monday called “Extinguishing the fire: Our war on terrorism”.

His 45-minute talk looked at the problems facing Islam, terrorism and community unity.

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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.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan also spoke at the event.

Sheik Yusuf, aged 45, is one of the world’s top Muslim academics and was one of the first Islamic figures that President George Bush turned to for advice following the 11 September attacks.

Born Mark Hanson, the son of two US academics, he converted to Islam when he was 17 following a car crash.

He has been dubbed “the rock star of the new Muslim generation” and is on a three-week tour of the UK and the event in Cardiff is the second in a series of talks across the country.

Dr Olinga Ta’eed, who is chairing the Cardiff event, said he hoped Sheik Yusuf would help encourage communities in Wales to bond together to tackle the threat of terrorism.

“He is coming at a time when terrorism and Islam is at the forefront of the media,” he said.

“In Europe at the moment, we all feel very nervous about the threat of terror and Sheik Yusuf is coming here to try and put issues surrounding Islam into context.

“There are 100 invited guests from various sections of society including the government, the public sector and the police.

“We hope that his talk will be informative and will contribute to easing some of the tensions that exist between some communities in Wales.

“Like the title of the event says, it is about our war on terror – that means everyone.

“We have a collective responsibility to what happens in our communities and we hope that this event will help the cohesion of communities,” he added.

Following Sheik Yusuf’s speech, First Minister Rhodri Morgan gave a 15-minute response to the issues raised.

The event has been arranged by the All Wales Saheli Association and the Welsh Islamic Network.

Sheik Yusuf is due to appear as a panellist on BBC One’s Question Time programme on Thursday alongside the former Beirut hostage Terry Waite.


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Apr. 26, 2004
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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday April 27, 2004.
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