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Islamic leaders criticized for adding 'but' to condemnations

Islamic leaders criticized for adding 'but' to condemnations

Author: Lee Keath
Publication: The Chicago Sun-Times
Date: July 10, 2005
URL: http://www.suntimes.com/output/terror/cst-nws-bside10.html

Islamic leaders Friday condemned the London bombings, though many said the United States and Britain, with their wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are ultimately to blame for fueling militant violence. Increasing voices, however, say the Arab world has to stop adding ''but'' to its denunciations of terrorism.

The bombings targeted a city with enormous influence in the Arab world: London is home to some of the most widely read Arab-language newspapers and to many Arab exiles -- including Islamic fundamentalists.

''This is a disaster, but even disasters can bring good things. It's a chance for Muslims to show they want to live together'' peacefully with Westerners, Tunisian Islamist leader Rached Ghannouchi, who lives in exile in London, told Al-Jazeera, one of the Middle East's most popular satellite channels. ''Extremism and violence cannot resolve any issue.

"If the British government committed crimes in Afghanistan or Iraq, that doesn't mean the British people are fair targets.''

The blasts in central London, claimed by an al-Qaida-linked group, had Arabs walking a fine line: denouncing bloodshed and terrorism while trying to explain the growth of Islamic militancy.

''We are not trying to justify, only to analyze,'' wrote Abdel-Bari Atwan, who lives in London and is editor-in-chief of the Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper. ''We or any of our family members or friends could have been among the victims in London.

''But we must emphasize that the wars being waged now against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan and Palestine are the best way to recruit more terrorists and to expand the circle of armed attacks in the entire world.''

That stance was exactly what Khaled al-Huroub, a Palestinian writer living in Cambridge, England, said Arabs must avoid.

''It's wrong even to say this is a crime we condemn but we must understand the reasons behind it -- this could be seen as a justification,'' he wrote in the London-based Arab daily Al-Hayat.

He called for ''a clear-cut position, with no 'buts,' calling a crime as it deserves to be called.''

AP
 


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