Monday, September 05, 2005

Moderate Muslims Look Inward

This appears to be a positive development. Moderate Muslims are actually seeking to rein in the fundamentalists and jihadists within their midst, rather than simply diverting attention and conducting PR campaigns to convince non-Muslims that Islam is a religion of peace:
So this year at the Islamic Society's annual convention, which starts Friday in Chicago and is expected to draw 40,000 people, organizers will mount a new campaign against terrorism and extremism, with posters and pamphlets designed for use in mosques and Islamic schools.

The materials, Dr. Syeed said, will provide a theological rebuttal to Muslim extremists who cite the Koran and Islamic texts to justify violence. "It has become very critical that these things need to be spelled out thoroughly and become part of our day-to-day discussion," he said.

A fatwa, or religious edict, against extremism and terrorism released by a group of North American Muslim scholars in July has been signed by representatives of more than 250 mosques and Islamic centers. The Council on American-Islamic Affairs is running public affairs spots on television and radio with the slogan "Not in the Name of Islam." One chapter says it put up a billboard next to the Florida Turnpike saying, "Islam Condemns Terrorism."

The slogans themselves are not new. Within a few hours of the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, 10 American Muslim groups released statements decrying the attacks, and many groups have routinely denounced subsequent attacks around the world.

What has changed is the intended audience. Before, Muslim leaders said they had wanted to reach non-Muslims with the message that terrorism was un-Islamic. They still do, but now they say the more urgent need is to reach other Muslims.

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