As Imam at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, Director of the Jamaica Muslim Center, and Chairman of Masjid Al-Hikmah, as well as on a personal level, I unequivocally denounce the killings of United Nations workers and innocent Afghanis by those protesting the burning of the Qur’an by the Florida church Pastor, Rev. Terry Jones. Regardless of motive or the rationalization claimed as justification for these murders, positing that these brutal and inhuman actions are in defense of Islam is an irresponsible contrivance. Violent Extremism which seeks to inflict harm on innocent people is an absolute corruption of Islamic doctrine, and must be condemned and declared plainly to be completely and unambiguously against the teachings of Islam.
Standing together with all friends, Jews, Christians, and other people of conscience, I condemn this act of violence and religious fanaticism and want to remind the public that just as Terry Jones who operates under a tiny fringe group, does not represent the teaching of Christianity and the Christian Church, these extremist Muslims do not represent the 1.6 billion adherents of Islam.
Let me also express my high appreciation to the Christian leaders worldwide for their courage and strong stand in condemning the extremist acts of Terry Jones in burning the Holy Qur'an. Their honorable gesture serves as the best example for a bright future with more solid relations.
I call upon all Muslim leaders, especially religious leaders, to stand up and voice out their opposition to, and condemnation of, the ignorant acts of some in the name of Islam. I also call upon all men and women of faith to join hands and build a stronger partnership in challenging and fighting the rise of extremism in our society.
We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of the UN workers killed in this violent attack, and hope that these senseless killings are not used to condemn an entire religious or ethnic community, nor to incite further aggression.
New York, April 1, 2011
Imam M. Shamsi Ali