Fri, Jul 29, 2005 - Page 7 News List

North American Muslims issue anti-terrorism `fatwa'

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

Muslim scholars in the US and Canada were planning to release a fatwa (judicial ruling) yesterday saying that Islam condemns terrorism, religious extremism and any violence against civilians, including suicide bombings.

They said that the fatwa is a response to the bombings this month in London and Egypt, and that they wanted the message to reach both non-Muslims who believe that Islam supports terrorism, as well as Muslims in North America and elsewhere, especially youths who could be susceptible to Islamic extremism.

"Young people might not have had the opportunity to understand the teaching of Islam in depth," said Jamal Badawi, chairman of the Islamic Information Foundation in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a member of the council issuing the fatwa.

"We are trying to be proactive, not wait until something happens," he said.

The fatwa cites the Koran and other Islamic texts, and says that targeting innocent people is forbidden -- haram -- and that those who commit such violence are "criminals" and not "martyrs," as supporters of suicide bombers have often claimed.

The edict is signed by 18 Islamic scholars who serve on the Fiqh Council of North America, an association of Muslim jurists who interpret Islamic law, and is endorsed by more than 100 Muslim organizations, mosques and leaders.

The fatwa reiterates previous anti-terrorism statements that many Muslim leaders and organizations in the US have issued repeatedly in recent years in response to terrorist attacks. But Muslim leaders said they hope that by calling it a "fatwa" this time, they will convince Americans that Islam does not condone violence.

"Fatwa seems to be one of those hot-button terms," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "Maybe now they'll listen."

Similar fatwas have been issued by Muslim leaders in other countries. After the bombings on the London underground and a bus earlier this month, hundreds of imams and scholars in England endorsed a fatwa asserting that Islam cannot be used to support terrorist bombings.

American Muslim leaders say they have become frustrated at what appears to be a growing conviction in the US that equates

The council recently began 30-second public service announcements on TV dramatizing that terrorism is "Not in the Name of Islam."

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