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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
American Muslims condemn massacre in Kandahar
Killing not representative of US Military’s otherwise stellar conduct in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON, DC (March 15, 2012) – The American Islamic Leadership Coalition condemns the March 11th massacre of Afghan men, women and children in the village of Balandai, in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. As American Muslims, we express our deep sympathy with the families of those who were killed and injured, and with the people of Afghanistan, who have suffered innumerable tragedies since the Soviet invasion over 32 years ago.
The AILC is confident that the U.S. military justice system will appropriately charge the soldier involved in this killing, and impose swift punishment for any and all crimes he committed, through the commission of a reprehensible act that has betrayed the trust of both the Afghan and American people.
Without in any way minimizing or excusing the horrific nature of this massacre, we believe that the act of a single U.S. soldier should not be allowed to impugn the honor of hundreds of thousands of U.S., NATO and other allied troops who have dedicated the past ten years to helping Afghanistan develop a more advanced administrative, economic, educational, health and transportation infrastructure, while safeguarding its population from the Taliban’s medieval and brutal rule. We also realize that thousands of our brave compatriots in uniform have made the ultimate sacrifice to render Afghanistan a safer place, with often little to no appreciation for their efforts.
The Taliban leadership and other enemies of Afghanistan and the West are now seeking to exploit the despicable actions of one lone killer, in order to portray themselves as the defenders of Afghan pride and honor. This is completely untrue.
Whereas the U.S. military justice system has already begun to adopt swift and effective measures to punish the U.S. sergeant involved in this massacre, and thereby discourage others from imitating his example, the Taliban has deliberately massacred tens of thousands of Afghans and Pakistanis over the past twenty years, and continues to implement this brutal policy on a daily basis.
The U.S. government’s response to the despicable act committed by one of its soldiers highlights a clear distinction between the massacre that occurred in Balandai, and the systematic targeting of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims by Islamist supremacists, acting in furtherance of their ideology. Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram and other such groups deliberately attack churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, schools and other “soft targets,” in order to inflict maximum casualties upon those they regard as their enemies.
Yet despite this vivid distinction between Islamist extremists and the U.S. military-which seeks to minimize and prevent civilian casualties in a war zone-we should not lose sight of the possibility that the brutal murders committed in the village of Balandai may represent another manifestation of the “Breivik syndrome,” in which an individual commits a horrific act of violence motivated by intensely anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim sentiments.
The combination of relentless acts of violence committed by Muslims with a supremacist political agenda (i.e., “Islamists”)-and the refusal of Western elites to directly explain and address why this is happening-is clearly prompting more and more Europeans and Americans to conclude that Islam itself is antithetical to the West, and that Muslims in general are “the enemy.”
“If we extrapolate outward from the Breivik and Balandai incidents,” said AILC member C. Holland Taylor of LibForAll Foundation, “both could be warning signs about the growing radicalization of Western opinion, and to the potential for civil conflict in Europe and North America, if we fail to head it off.”
“I lay the blame for this polarization at the feet of Islamists, and Western elites who refuse to address the virulent ideology of Muslim supremacism,” said AILC member Tarek Fatah, who helped to establish the Muslim Canadian Congress. “To fight malaria we need to drain the swamps, not kill individual mosquitoes,” he added.
“For the past few years I’ve been warning Muslims that if Islamist extremists commit another major attack on U.S. soil, the retaliation from our fellow Americans may go off the charts,” said AILC member Jamal Hasan of the Council for Democracy and Tolerance. “It will be a tragedy of inconceivable proportions, if Muslim extremists provoke the West into behaving in a manner similar to that of the Islamists themselves.”
We are certain that the actions of the soldier who committed this atrocity do not represent the implementation of any U.S. policy. On the contrary, we understand that the U.S. military in Afghanistan operates under strict rules of engagement designed to protect civilian lives and prevent the unnecessary destruction of property. Despite these rules of engagement, we realize that the stress of combat can, on rare occasion, trigger psychiatric illness and inexplicable acts of rage to which our soldiers are not immune.
“There is no moral equivalence between the deranged act of a lone U.S. soldier, and the systematic violence and ideologies employed by Islamists to achieve their goals,” said AILC member Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, who served eleven years as a medical officer in the U.S. Navy. “Islamist terrorism is fueled by a pervasive ideology of hatred, supremacy and violence, and is completely antithetical to the ethical and spiritual teachings of Islam itself and other religions as well.”
The AILC wishes to remind both Muslims and non-Muslims that the ISAF presence in Afghanistan was established at the request of the United Nations Security Council. The explicit purpose of this military intervention is to eradicate al-Qaeda from Afghanistan, and to deliver ordinary Afghan men, women and children from the horrors of Taliban rule.
About the American Islamic Leadership Coalition (AILC)
The American Islamic Leadership Coalition (AILC) is a diverse coalition of liberty-minded, North American Muslim leaders and organizations. AILC’s mission advocates for defending the US Constitution, upholding religious pluralism, protecting American security and cherishing genuine diversity in the faith and practice of Islam. AILC provides a stark alternative to the Islamist organizations that claim to speak for what are diverse American Muslim communities. For more information on AILC, please visit our website at http://www.americanislamicleadership.org/.
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