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Muslims urged to pray for peace, amid a spate of violent attacks in new year

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Religious leaders have condemned the spate of violent attacks which have marred the start of the New Year. On New Year’s Eve, Saturday 31 December, a bomb blast and a suicide attack killed 25 people and injured many others in a busy market in central Baghdad. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State (aka Da`ish), whose last major stronghold in the northern city of Mosul is under serious threat from Iraqi government forces. This attack is considered another tragic outcome of the politically fuelled Sunni-Shi’a sectarian conflict in the region.

The Baghdad bombings were followed hours later by the killing of 39 people and the injuring of over 60 others in Istanbul. This heinous attack by a lone gunman that occurred an hour into the New Year celebrations in Turkey has also been claimed by Da’ish.

The Claremont Main Road Masjid (CMRM) said it noted with grave concern that despite a statement issued during the final week of 2016 by Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, that the Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has been killed, he resurfaced in a new YouTube video on Friday 30 December 2016, mocking the claim and urging his fighters to “kill, slaughter and abduct … and detonate bombs everywhere”.

“CMRM unequivocally condemns this call by Shekau purportedly made in the name of Islam. This is the third time that the Nigerian government has claimed to have killed Shekau, and the Boko Haram leader reappears in a video to mock and deny them,” said Imam Rashied Omar in a statement.

“It is palpable that there is something drastically wrong with the Nigerian government’s strategy and tactics to mitigate against deadly conflict and terror attacks. So too are the strategy and tactics of the Iraqi and Turkish governments. Their increasingly autocratic and sectarian responses have been woeful and counter-productive.”

Last Thursday, Turkish novelist Asli Erdogan and eight others were charged with membership of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey considers a terrorist organization. Erdogan is a right’s activists, novelist and columnist with Ozgur Gundem, a Kurdish daily closed down by the government in August for alleged links to the PKK. If convicted, they could face life in prison. The Shi`a dominated Iraqi government has also been accused by a number of reputable human rights groups of persecuting and marginalizing Sunni tribes.

This week, the ongoing tragedy of the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar reached “genocidal proportions”, said CMRM. In recent weeks, more than 27,000 people belonging to the persecuted Muslim minority, a group loathed by many of Myanmar’s Buddhist majority, have fled a Burmese military operation in Rakhine state. The Muslim Rohingya have languished under years of dire poverty and discrimination from a Burmese government that denies them citizenship.

The CMRM said it was an “indictment” that the persecution of Rohingya Muslims has continued unabated under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi, a former Nobel Laureate.

“In light of this ongoing violence that is threatening the peace and stability of many countries across the world, CMRM once again reiterates its strong condemnation of all forms of deadly violence and atrocities whether perpetrated by non-state or state actors. As Muslims, we reiterate that the sanctity of human life is supreme in Islam and there can be no justification for the killing of innocent human beings. The Glorious Qur’an is replete with references concerning the sacredness of human life (Q6:151; Q17:33; Q25:68). For example, in chapter 5 verse 32, God, the Lord of Compassionate Justice proclaims:

“Whoever kills one innocent human being it is as if he has killed all of humankind,
And whoever saves one human life it is as if he has saved all of humankind.”

“It is our responsibility as conscientious Muslims, who strive to uphold the key Islamic tenets of social justice and dignity for all, to never tire from asserting that the heinous acts of murder and violence by Boko Haram, ISIS and their ilk are dishonourable and betray any expression of faith in Islam. Their claim to act in the name of Islam is an aberration of our faith and we therefore unswervingly proclaim loudly and unequivocally “Not in Our Name.””

The masjid called on the United Nations and the international community to closely examine the multiple roots of terror and extremism and to redouble efforts to eradicate terror and extremism.

“We call on all peace and justice loving Muslims around the world to add their voices of condemnation to extremist violence, perpetrated by Muslim state and non-state actors. We express our sincere condolences to the families of all the people who have been brutally killed and pray for the many people who were injured in acts of atrocities. We pray for peace with justice in this new Gregorian year 2017.”

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