Leaders of Charlotte’s Muslim community held a press conference Tuesday to deliver what they said was a unified message: to condemn the violence by ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terrorist group.
About 30 people gathered in front of The Charlotte Observer building. Participants said they wanted to meet at the newspaper because they felt that Muslim voices of reason were not being reflected in the media. Speakers said they were not criticizing the Observer’s reporting, but rather the scope of media coverage in general.
“We want the people of North Carolina, Charlotte and the world to hear that we stand for justice,” former Charlotte City Council member Nasif Majeed said. “ISIS is not the true picture of Islam.”
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Several speakers stressed that the violence against civilians perpetrated by ISIS is the antithesis of the teachings of Islam and the Quran.
“How can they represent Islam when the holy book condemns the slaughter of innocents?” asked Imam Khalil Akbar with the Ash-Shaheed mosque.
Islam has never taught people to kill and go against innocent human beings, Imam John Ramadan said.
Ramadan, the leader of the Ar-Razzaq mosque, also said there is “no coverage of the good work Muslims do in this city.”
He called Muslims a peace-loving people “working for the betterment of all of humanity.” Ramadan noted that his mosque, or masjid, is hosting its eighth annual interfaith banquet Saturday afternoon at the Drury Inn and Suites Northlake in north Charlotte.
Akbar said the people at the press conference were all American citizens, and that the press has ignored Muslim leaders who have spoken out against terrorist attacks since 9/11.
John Ederer, imam with the Muslim American Society of Charlotte, said he was saddened how his religion was being misrepresented by ISIS. ISIS no more represents Islam, he said, than the KKK represents Christianity.
“But we don’t hear that. We don’t hear ‘the Christian extremists, the KKK.’ We don’t get that message from the media,” Ederer said.
In recent weeks, ISIS has released videos of the beheading of two American journalists, even as it continues its push to take over areas of Syria and Iraq.
President Barack Obama met with congressional leaders Tuesday to build support for his plan to deal with ISIS. He intends to address the nation Wednesday night about plans to degrade and destroy the group
Osama Idlibi, president of the local Muslim American Society, said area Muslim leaders reject the false claim that ISIS represents mainstream Islam in thought or practice. “ISIS’ actions are neither Islamic or humane,” he said. “They are simply insane.”