Muslims damn fanatics

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    The following article is fom today's Melbourne Age. As much as I hate to contribute further to the mountains of religious bile and cr@p that has posted to this forum it simply goes to further demonstrate that the fanatical ratbag element is a miniscule minorty in the Muslim world just as the bilious redneck racists are in the Australian white community.

    Muslims damn fanatics
    November 3 2002
    By Larry Schwartz

    Leaders of Australia's 300,000-strong Muslim community are banding together to publicly condemn terrorist attacks by religious extremists in their first united stand on the issue.

    The formal statement, which is in the final stages of drafting, will warn extremist groups that they are wrong to think they are acting in the name of the broader Muslim community.

    The official head of Victoria's 90,000-strong Muslim community and one of the prime movers behind the initiative said the statement would effectively tell extremists "what you're doing, you're doing on your own".

    "Whoever they are (and whatever they do), it is not in our name," said Yasser Soliman, president of the Islamic Council of Victoria. "We condemn it and never can condone it."

    While not naming specific individuals involved in terrorism, extremist organisations or governments, the condemnation was "inclusive". "We stand away from all the actions of all extremists from all backgrounds," Mr Soliman said.

    "Despite what they claim, none of their actions were on our behalf or in the name of Islam as we understand it or in the name of the God that we worship, or any other for that matter, because no religion teaches to kill innocent people and the aggressive violence that has taken place."

    But Mr Soliman said highly publicised ASIO and police raids on Muslims in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth last week had left people "confused, scared and stunned" and risked undermining goodwill between Muslims and the wider community.

    "There's confusion and there's concern," he said. "We don't need more people to be afraid of Muslims." He said ASIO had so far visited at least five Muslims of Indonesian descent in Victoria.

    Unlike the highly publicised raids seen elsewhere in Australia, where police carried sub-machineguns and used sledgehammers to break windows and doors, the ASIO officers in Victoria had simply rung door bells or knocked on front doors. The targets of the visits had cooperated during searches, Mr Soliman said.

    Foreign Minister Alexander Downer yesterday telephoned his Indonesian counterpart Hassan Wirayuda following growing criticism in Jakarta over the handling of the raids.

    "I think the Indonesian Foreign Minister was very clear in his message," he told ABC radio. "And that is that he understands that Australians should be investigating people who may have links with Jemaah Islamiah..."

    Indonesian police were due to start questioning the alleged leader of Jemaah Islamiah, militant Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, yesterday over a series of Christian church bombings and a plot to kill President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

    Police investigating the October 12 Bali nightclub bombings yesterday released a man arrested earlier because he looked similar to a composite sketch of one of the suspects. The man, arrested on Thursday on Flores, was mentally ill and had nothing to do with the attack, police said.

    Mr Soliman said although the final wording had not been decided, "a large proportion" of leaders representing Muslims in Australia had already agreed to the Victorian-initiative to draft the statement condemning actions including the Bali bombing as contrary to Islam.

    "We've been accused of not standing up so many times against violence and terrorism and this and that," Mr Soliman said.

    He said Australian Muslims were eager to prevent terrorist activities and as likely as others to report suspicious behaviour to authorities as had happened in Preston when the community reported a Saudi national and suspected al Qaeda member.

    Mr Soliman believed there were other instances where Muslims alerted authorities to "suspicious characters".
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