Monday, December 26, 2016

USA: Extremist Muslims will not have final word, terrorism expert says


“We believe in this day and age we need to practice Islam peacefully, show tolerance to people of other faiths and counter extremism with dialogue.”

(Will Lester-SCNG/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)
Times of Ahmad | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
By John M. Blodgett | December 25, 2016

CHINO >> Words matter, said a hate-crime and terrorism expert Friday afternoon at the Baitul Hameed Mosque in Chino.

“Terrorists may have the loudest word, but not the last one,” Brian Levin said. “We do.”

Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, was the last of about two dozen speakers who presented at a special public session at the mosque’s annual year-end, weekendlong gathering known as Jalsa Salana.

The purpose of the session was to clear the record about the true teachings of Islam distorted by extremists and to counter Islamaphobia, Ahsan M. Khan, spokesperson and local president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, said.

“Our goal is not to convert but to make sure people leave here feeling comfortable with Islam,” he said.

Preceding Levin at the podium were representatives from area law enforcement agencies, other religious institutions, public offices and more. Levin said the numerous faiths represented as well as the few hundred in attendance each comprised a single brick in a “brick firewall” of religious pluralism the U.S. needs to protect against bigotry and hatred.

Khan said the session was an extension of a “True Islam” campaign the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community began about a year ago.

“We believe in this day and age we need to practice Islam peacefully, show tolerance to people of other faiths and counter extremism with dialogue,” Khan said.

The community’s spiritual leader is London-based Mirza Masroor Ahmad, whom Khan calls “an ambassador of peace and justice” who “has condemned all forms of religious extremism around the world.​”

The session came in the wake of numerous acts of anti-Muslim violence in Southern California, including an attack on a Muslim man in a San Diego restaurant in October, threatening letters sent to Islamic Centers in Long Beach and Claremont in November, and a stabbing at a Simi Valley mosque in December.

In addition to Levin, the speakers included San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis and police Chief Jarrod Burguan, newly elected Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval, Chino Mayor Eunice M. Ulloa and police Chief Karen Comstock and West Covina Councilman James Toma.

Toma, a Japanese-American citizen, recalled the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II as an instance when the nation allowed prejudices to cause a deviation from its founding principles, not unlike what is now happening against Muslims.

“We need to remain vigorous in safeguarding our democratic principles” to prevent such racial profiling, he said.

Khan expected roughly 2,000 people would attend the entire Jalsa Salana — or “annual gathering.”

Like other Muslims, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, with an estimated 100 million members worldwide, believes in Muhammad as the final prophet of God, Khan said. It differs in that its founder in 1889, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, is considered the second coming of the Messiah, whom other Muslims still await.



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