The Niagara Foundation condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the mindless and brutal attack of a mob of extremists against the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Libya. We abhor and deeply mourn the resulting deaths of four American civil servants, including the widely respected U.S. Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens.
As an organization founded by Muslims and inspired by the teachings of M. Fethullah Gulen, we feel a profound sense of revulsion and betrayal whenever even a few people claiming to be Muslims become so misguided that they fail to realize that, by engaging in acts of violence against innocent fellow human beings, it is they who are disgracing the legacy of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, far more than the hateful and equally misguided people who seek to incite violence by denigrating, in the crudest and most provocative of ways, what is sacred to others.
In the immediate aftermath of the eleventh anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, 2001, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those whose lives were lost in Libya, as well as the victims of violence in other places in the world where ignorance and fear blind people to the divine gift of our common humanity.
As an organization dedicated to intercultural and interfaith understanding and collaboration for the sake of the human family, tragic events such as this can only strengthen our resolve to continue our work laying the foundation for a more just and peaceful future through the cultivation of relationships of mutual understanding and respect among people of different cultures and faiths.
STATEMENT FROM FETHULLAH GULEN CONDEMNING VIOLENCE FOLLOWING ATTACK ON U.S. CONSULATE IN LIBYA
“I have learned with sadness about the attack on the United States Consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi which resulted in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, consulate personnel and several others. I strongly condemn this heinous attack which targeted public servants representing their country in Libya and thus were guests of Libyan government and people. On this sad occasion I reiterate my condemnation of all forms of terror regardless of its perpetrators and the purposes for which it is carried out.
“As we witness other violent protests in Cairo, Yemen and elsewhere, my message is that lasting change will only result from peaceful expressions of reaction and open dialogue. Consorting to violence and targeting human life for protest constitute a betrayal of the soul of the very Islamic tradition that many of these protestors seemingly claim to defend. What suits Muslims is to express their reactions in a peaceful and calm manner that befits the dignity of their faith.
“I send my sincere condolences to those who lost loved ones in the tragedy, to the United States Government, to American people and especially to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton under whom the ambassador and his staff have been serving. I share their pain in my heart and I pray for the fast recovery of those who were injured.”
About Fethullah Gulen
Mr. Fethullah Gulen is known and respected among Turkish Muslims as well as Muslims and non-Muslims from around the world as an authoritative mainstream Muslim scholar of the Sunni tradition, to which 87–90% of the world’s Muslim population belongs. He was among the first influential Muslim figures to publicly condemn the 9/11 attacks. He is also a thinker, a poet, a prolific author, an educational activist and an opinion leader. His readership in Turkey is estimated to be millions. His influence outside Turkey is growing daily as his works are translated into many languages including English, Arabic, Russian, German, Spanish, Urdu, Bosnian, Albanian, Malay and Indonesian. He recently received the 2011 Peace-building Award from the East West Institute in New York.
About Alliance for Shared Values
The Alliance for Shared Values, is a non-profit umbrella organization serving as a centralized collaboration platform, and a unified voice for its member dialogue and cultural organizations in the United States. The Alliance is composed of a diverse set of organizations dedicated to promoting philanthropy, community service, intercultural and interfaith understanding to elevate humanity and bring greater peace. The Alliance for Shared Values works to promote projects and initiatives for community enrichment by facilitating networking, the sharing of best practices and augmenting local resources of its member or partner organizations.
Contact: David Vermillion (212) 614-4355
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Alliance for Shared Values, Suite 601, 535 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10017
FINANCIAL TIMES Opinion (Op-ed) by Fethullah Gulen: Violence is not in the tradition of the Prophet
Violence is not in the tradition of the Prophet
Muslims pray each day: “O Lord! Keep us on the straight path.” It is a prayer to help us move away from the extremes and maintain balance in our lives. We must neither be hostage to our reactionary instincts, nor must we remain completely silent in the face of the systematic defamation of our values and beliefs. This balance has been upset by the violent response to the insults targeting the legacy of beloved Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him). The violent response was wrong and strayed from the straight path.
Muslims should not be indifferent with respect to the attacks on the Prophet (PBUH). On the contrary, they must show the utmost sensitivity and caution. Those insulting Islam might be seeking to depict a negative image of Muslims, and hence justify discrimination, isolation, persecution or deportation. The deliberate instigation and creation of turmoil in the Muslim world is not new. Our sacred values were attacked in the past through cartoons, today it is done through a movie and cartoons in a French magazine, and tomorrow other means may be used. Muslims must not be beguiled or enticed but instead must speak out to prevent those who are more easily provoked from resorting to violence.
The question that we should ask ourselves as Muslims is whether we have introduced Islam and its Prophet properly to the world. Have we followed his example in such a way as to instil admiration? We must do so, not with words, but with our actions.When any negative comment is made about the Prophet, however slight it may be, a Muslim should feel deep sorrow. Yet expressing that sorrow is a different matter. Irresponsible actions by individuals damage the image of Islam and destroy the very tradition they are claiming to defend.
Since the rights of every Muslim, as well as God, the Koran and the Prophet are at stake in such a circumstance, one cannot act recklessly. One should scrutinise the possible ramifications of each and every action, and seek the wisdom of the collective judgment.
If suicide bombers are the first things that come to people’s minds, how could they have a positive opinion of Islam? How is killing innocent civilians indiscriminately different from the barbarity suffered by Muslims in history? What is the rationale behind attacking an American consulate in Libya, killing an ambassador and consulate officers, who have nothing to do with this wretched movie? If it is Muslims who are carrying out these attacks, it means that they are entirely unaware of what Islam is all about and are committing the biggest crime in the name of Islam.
A Muslim must always be straightforward and consistent in his actions and words. He should respect the sacred values of Christians, Jews, Buddhists and others as he expects his own religion and values to be respected. In reacting, a Muslim should not sway from the proper middle path. Many correct forms of response can be found by appealing to the collective conscience of society and to the international community.
Hate speech designed to incite violence is an abuse of the freedom of expression. It violates the rights, dignity and freedoms of others while pushing humanity towards conflict in an age of horrifying weapons. Instead of falling victim to the instigation of others, we should appeal to the relevant international institutions, such as the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation or the UN, to intervene, expose and condemn instances of hate speech. We can do whatever it takes within the law to prevent any disrespect to all revered religious figure, not only to the Prophet Mohammed.
The attacks on the Prophet we have repeatedly experienced are to be condemned, but the correct response is not violence. Instead, we must pursue a relentless campaign to promote respect for the sacred values of all religions.
The writer is a Muslim scholar in the Sunni tradition and honorary chairman of the Istanbul-based Journalists and Writers Foundation